Peter Rhodes on the happiest age, forgotten heroes and cops arresting the flipping floppy folk

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Time to go floppy
Time to go floppy

The recent screening of the 1942 classic Casablanca on BBC4, uncut and unspoiled by adverts, was a delight. It also contained a surprise. Have you noticed how much the young Ingrid Bergman resembled the young Margaret Thatcher?

Talking of age, researchers in the States claim that humans are happiest in youth and old age but not so happy in middle-age. “No ifs, no buts – well-being is U-shaped,” they proclaim confidently. Thus, you are likely to be happier in your 70s than at the most troubled aged of 48. Well, maybe so. But if the scientists have got it right, isn't it strange that plenty of 70-somethings would love to be 48 but you don't find many 48-year-olds who'd want to be 70?

After my sad little item about old family photographs being dumped in skips, if it's any consolation, we are not the only country with so little regard for our past. My local antiques dealer makes regular trips to France and has just returned with a clutch of old photos. A fine young man with wavy hair and a neat moustache stares impassively from the frame. His collar badges proclaim him a member of the 66th Regiment and two medals testify to his valour in the First World War. Someone loved him once but now, over the Channel as here in England, sacrifice is forgotten and families are chucking out their heroes.

A reader who is an expert on the Pholcidae family of araneomorph spiders (there is always one) takes me to task for my item suggesting Chateau Rhodes has been invaded by harvestmen. Our creepy-crawlies, he reckons, are more likely to be the long-legged spider Pholcus phalangioides, not harvestmen. The giveaway is that harvestmen do not spin silk but Pholcus do. Oh, what a tangled column . . .

Sir Stephen House, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, says the tactic of Extinction Rebellion protesters going limp when arrested is a “flipping nuisance.” He explains: “When we arrest them and pick them up, they go all floppy, which is why you see four or five officers carrying them away. It’s a complete waste of officers’ time, and a complete pain in the neck.” XR describes the tactic as “totally peaceful.” It certainly provides a rare opportunity for old blokes to boast about being floppy. As a 77-year-old retired teacher proudly told reporters at a demo: “Four officers organised themselves to carry me. I was totally limp.”

You might well ask why the cops do not arrest Mr Floppy and his mates for the offence of resisting arrest. The answer is that under English law, so long as you offer no violence, there is no such offence.

I am sure this loophole in the law could be closed by Parliament in a matter of minutes with a bill outlawing the deliberate act of going floppy in a public place, on pain of a stiff sentence. What could possibly go wrong?

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