Peter Rhodes on bats, business interests and the ancient art of badlassin'

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Damn those barbastelles
Damn those barbastelles

HS2 update. A legal firm in Buckinghamshire has warned HS2 Ltd that it risks breaking the law by disturbing rare bats in a wood in Buckinghamshire. The bats in question are barbastelles and I dare say on receiving this letter, the embattled HS2 bosses uttered a similar word.

According to the Daily Mail, busily pushing its back-to-work agenda, the UK economy is now the priority “for nearly half of Tory voters.” Seasoned statistic watchers will know that “nearly half”actually means “less than half.”

Sure enough, the survey on which this claim is based shows that the proportion who believe the Government should concentrate on limiting the spread of Coronavirus is 53 per cent. And the figure for those who think the economy should get top priority is just 28 per cent. What's more, this is a poll only among Conservative voters who might be expected to be more business-friendly. In other words, despite seven months of hard lobbying by worried MPs and business interests, Tory Middle England still thinks saving lives is more important than saving jobs.

The longer it goes on, the more that some folk find working from home loses its charms. I experienced something similar yonks ago when I was suddenly promoted to district reporter on a newspaper, responsible for a slice of rural Yorkshire. I naturally asked where the district office was. Turned out there wasn't one, unless you counted the front bar of the White Swan in Tadcaster.

I had become a news nomad, flitting between my bedsit and grimy phone boxes in bleak lay-bys, armed with a phone credit card and a notebook full of shorthand. It was bad enough having no office, no desk, no typewriter and no sandwich trolley but what I really missed was colleagues, gossip and office politics. I was cut adrift from the busy, passionate little village called Newsroom.

If you are an office person – and I would have pleaded guilty as charged – being dragged out of your office is not always liberating nor relaxing, as some homeworkers claim. It is a form of exile, to be endured rather than enjoyed.

What a blessing is a classical education. When you saw the chuckout-time ladies of Liverpool parading in sky-high miniskirts and towering stilettos, were you not reminded of the sirens of Greek mythology, luring innocent sailors on to the rocks?

I am also reminded of my grandfather who described trips into town in pursuit of such ladies as badlassin'. This word is my contribution today to the list of terms that, according to a survey, people aged 18-30 no longer understand. Terms such as cad, bonk, wally, nincompoop and boogie are in danger of dying out. The Evening Standard even felt it necessary to explain thus: “Cad, meaning a man who behaves dishonourably.”

I suspect many young folk understand the word “cad” perfectly. But “dishonourably?” Wossat?

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