Peter Rhodes on a dubious drop, a shortage of Covidiots and a timely tale of a chicken and its neck

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Some chicken . . .
Some chicken . . .

According to the Police Federation, officers were “pleasantly surprised” that more illegal gatherings did not take place on New Year's Eve. So have we at last learned the lesson?

Or is it more likely that the sort of idiots who wanted to party last Thursday night are precisely the sort of idiots who broke the Covid regulations over Christmas? And how many of them stayed away from NYE celebrations not out of common sense but because they are now nursing a dry cough with breathing difficulties, and wondering why Gran doesn't answer the phone?

Happy Birthday to The Archers (Radio 4) which is celebrating its 70th anniversary. Thoughts inevitably turn to the dramatic tragedy exactly 10 years ago. The 60th was marked by the untimely demise of Nigel Pargetter who, with a long, blood-curdling scream, fell off the roof at Lower Loxley Hall.

Before his body was even in the morgue, some dedicated yet suspicious Archers fans were questioning the duration of Nigel's scream (3.5 seconds) and calculating the height of his drop. It worked out at an improbable 60 metres which is about the height of a 20-storey block of flats. Cynics said they had no idea Lower Loxley Hall was such an imposing pile. If you ever wonder what sort of people listen to The Archers, there's the answer.

I have pretty much excused myself from New Year resolutions, having reached that stage in life when, polished by the Pledge of time and burnished by the Brasso of experience, you are just about as shiny-perfect a specimen of humanity as possible. In any case, I made my Big Lifestyle Change a couple of months ago when, after half a century of chain-swallowing cuppas and coffee, I gave up all caffeine. And despite many online warnings about dire side-effects of withdrawal, there have been none. My blood pressure is a little lower and I'm sleeping better. Worth a try?

I don't often quote Winston Churchill but in understanding the next item, it helps to know that in 1940, after the fall of France and with the Germans at the Channel, a French general allegedly claimed England “will have her neck wrung like a chicken.” In a speech some months later, Churchill reflected: “Some chicken. Some neck.”

From the millions of words written about Brexit, I cherish these by a German commentator, Nikolaus Blome, in the newspaper Der Spiegel. He says Britain has been “captured by gambling liars, frivolous clowns and their paid cheerleaders. . . . But all the British government will finally have achieved is to have taken back control of a little shovel and a little sandcastle.”

Some shovel, some sandcastle.

In this sinister age of deepfakery, the Beeb's new director-general, Tim Davie, said a few days ago that the Corporation must work harder to separate fact from fiction. Or did he?

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