Peter Rhodes on a politician's prang, annoying adverts and the political power of Covid-19 survivors

The Guardian's news website carried a report of Labour leader Keir Starmer's car colliding with a cyclist. It was accompanied by an advert: “Do this to Fix Car Scratches. This Car Gadget Magically Removed Scratches from My New Car.”

Keir Starmer
Keir Starmer

Many of us are watching more telly than usual. More telly means more TV adverts which means more TV advert rage. A reader tells me he is infuriated by three commercials: “The Volvo driver who reverses out onto a busy road. The arrogant sister who tells her obviously-caring brother to get out of her room. The idiot father who asks his incredibly cool daughter to give him the pound coin she retrieved from the trolley.” I agree. And what about the mattress adverts on Talking Pictures TV with a running time longer than some of the movies? Similar rants most welcome.

You may not be aware that the world is run by an elite of devil-worshipping paedophiles who drink children's blood and are plotting the downfall of Donald Trump. This multi-headed and all-enveloping conspiracy has millions of supporters on social media and is known as Q-Anon. This word should be spelt without the hyphen but my computer will not allow me to type QAnon (I had to cut and paste this word from another page). Which just proves there's gotta be sumfink in it, innit?

Why are millions of Americans thick enough to believe such stuff? The US journalist and scholar H L Mencken once wrote: “The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed a standard citizenry, to put down dissent and originality.” There are many who believe he was right then and right now.

Today, if the scientists are right, about 100,000 Brits will catch Covid-19. Eighty per cent will have no symptoms or mild symptoms. At that daily rate more than two million people per month will soon be passing safely through the Covid experience and emerging immune (at least for a while). Until now, we have put up with restrictions partly out of personal fear of the virus. But soon there will be a huge and growing constituency of people who have encountered Covid, beaten it and no longer fear it, and demand normality. What, then, of our much-vaunted concern for the old and frail? Britain is heading for a tipping point and a test of our national character.

To understand this bit, it helps to know that a placket is an opening in a woman's skirt.

In his King Lear written in 1604, Shakespeare offered this sound advice to men everywhere: “Keep thy foot out of brothels, thy hand out of plackets.” And in every century since, men have ignored those words and been brought crashing down. Even when everybody thought they were like a big, cuddly old uncle. So, farewell, Frank Bough . . .

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