Peter Rhodes on an imperfect planet, a Russian fantasy and the secrets of car repairs online

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

How perfect, Sir David?
How perfect, Sir David?

After the frosts, the boot-opening function of my car key suddenly packed up. This would once have been the prelude to a lot of head-shaking and breath-intaking at the local garage, followed by a large bill. These days you go to YouTube where a friendly mechanic at Ol' Bill's Auto Mart in Arkansas explains, yessir, that fuse number eight has blown and see hear, y'all, here's how to fix it.

Sure enough, five minutes later, following the online lesson, I had whipped out the blown fuse and inserted a new one. It is a mystery of our age that so many tradesmen put the secrets of their trade online. As I shut the boot I had a sudden mental image of Ol' Bill sitting in his deserted workshop, wondering where all the customers have gone.

After all the agonising over whether The Crown (Netflix) is fact, fiction or a fusion of the two, there's no such problem with another royal series. The Great (C4) takes the story of Russia's Catherine the Great and turns it into a sexy comedy in the court of Peter the Great, a man so self-centred, indulged and woefully misnamed that he thought it perfectly fine to shoot a pet bear in a dining room, and try out his new pistols by wounding his friends. Or at least he does in this version.

The plot bears only a passing resemblance to the facts. In real life, Peter was impotent and the marriage was not consummated for 12 years. In the telly version, this is slightly reduced. To about 90 seconds.

Farewell, the tree. And all those decorations, too. If preparing for Christmas is such a great exercise in excitement, why is removing the flim-flam and foliage just as thrilling? Suddenly the house seems bigger, cleaner, lighter - your newly energised launch pad for all the great things you had planned for 2021. Huh.

According to one of those online calculators, my date for getting the Covid-19 jab (based on age, medical condition, gender, etc) is May 28. The more important calculator, and the one you can't find anywhere, is the one which (based on your lifestyle and the number of idiots you mix with) tells you when the virus will get you.

In the meantime, all the over-walked public footpaths around us are 30 ft wide and glutinous. As throughout history, cometh the battle, cometh the mud.

Dear Director-General of the BBC. We, the undersigned flamingoes, iguanas, booby birds, tortoises, salmon and wildebeest, wish to protest in the strongest possible terms at the naming of the new David Attenborough series: A Perfect Planet. We respectfully point out that if you are being eaten by storks, crushed by avalanches, cooked alive in your shell, bled by vampire finches, disembowelled by bears or ripped apart by lions, leopards and hyenas, it is frankly a bit of an ordeal and not such a perfect planet at all.

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