Peter Rhodes on vaccine resisters, Bobby dazzlers and the North-South language divide

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

To jab or not to jab?

Another day spent hacking away at the Virginia creeper. If this stuff is vigorous enough to cover a house in a matter of days, is there some way of turning that growing power into electricity? Lots of tiny tendrils, lots of tiny turbines. Off you go.

In terms of income, investment, housing costs, quality of life and now even the weather, England's north-south divide is as wide as ever. And even if we were all levelled up and given a fair crack of the economic whip, as Boris Johnson suggests, what about the north-south language divide?

One of the good things about growing up in a family with North Country roots like ours is that little boys go through a stage denied to Southern Softies. At six months, in his smartest dinosaur T-shirt, our grandson is not yet a toddler nor even a rug rat. But he is quite definitely, by descent and birthright, a Bobby dazzler.

It is a Northern expression, from that great treasure chest of useful but ill-defined terms that the dictionaries call “origin obscure.” There are lots of Bobby dazzlers in Yorkshire and Lancashire but very few in Surrey and I dare say my readers in Jersey rarely hear the term. An online forum tells us: “What a Lancashire man would sometimes call a 'bobby-dazzler', a Cornishman would call a 'morgan-rattler'.” Morgan, it hardly needs adding, is “origin obscure.” For all its divisions, what a great, rich language we have.

If a successful Covid-19 vaccine is developed, would you accept it? According to a new survey, barely half of Brits say they are “certain” or “very likely” to have the jab. Those aged between 16 and 34 are twice as likely to decline it as older folk. Scientists and politicians may be horrified by these results but if this pandemic has proved anything, it is that some people will never do as they are asked. Scepticism rules. Social-network gossip and bizarre conspiracy theories spread by bored teenagers can travel faster than the most authoritative warnings issued by distinguished scientists who have devoted their lives to studying epidemics. It is fashionable to deny, cool to pretend you know better. The anti-Covid jab may be at hand. But before it arrives what we really need is an anti-scepticism jab.

Yesterday's gripping yarn of entering the 21st century by attempting – and failing – to convert to online banking ended as I rather thought it might. After resorting to ye olde landline and waiting for 10 minutes in a phone queue, I had the undivided attention of a nice young man who explained things very simply. In other words, the process was much as it was in the 20th century. I'm still a bit hazy about the difference between username, password, one-time password and security code but I daresay it will all fall into place. I do miss the old heliograph.

Peter Rhodes

By Peter Rhodes

Award-winning columnist and blogger. Keeping an eye on the tribulations and trivia of a fast-changing world

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