Peter Rhodes on haunted TVs, dysfunctional America and a pain in the backside for queue-jumpers

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Quizmaster Michael Miles
Quizmaster Michael Miles

Some scumbags have been exploiting a loophole in the vaccination-booking software to jump the queue and get the jab ahead of elderly and at-risk people. The Government says they could be fined. A senior doctor threatens they will be detected and turned away. Please, please – let's have a little more imagination.

Far from denying these reprehensible under-age queue-jumpers, why not ensure they get a jab? But not the jab they were expecting. Does the NHS still use those groaningly painful penicillin jabs that made a 1970s stay in hospital so memorable? One of those in the buttocks would be poetic justice.

Where on this planet do you find armed militias roaming the street with military assault rifles? Or a head of state letting his cronies out of jail? Or the infrastructure crumbling? Or talk of civil war? Or religious mania? You're probably thinking of lawless, drug-fuelled parts of Mexico and South America, or some grisly warlord fiefdoms in Africa. Yet this is where the United States of America stands today.

There was a time when the States believed it set an example for the world to follow. Today, does any country envy America? Joe Biden hopes to lead the world again. First he has to convince the world he is not only a leader but the president of a functioning state.

There are two great moments in every disaster movie. One is at the end when victory is won, the crisis is over and everything's gonna be just fine. But the other is half-way through the movie when everyone assumes victory is won, the crisis is over and everything's gonna be just fine. And that's when you look at your watch and realise there's an hour to go, so something horrible is yet to happen.

And while I like to believe we are at the end game with Covid-19, part of me suspects we are only half-way through the movie and something horrible is looming. The English variant is deadlier than they first told us. The Brazilian variant sounds like a stinker. In my worst dreams, one year from now we are pretty much where we are today. Having been right with a couple of pessimistic predictions so far, this time I really want to be wrong.

After yesterday's item on households still viewing black-and-white telly, I was drawn to eBay where dozens of old B&W sets are for sale. A 23-inch Murphy dating from the 1960s came with the sales pitch: “It has not been used for many, many years and I just do not want to switch it on.” Quite. You never know what you might find.

What if a 1960s TV were still infected with 1960s programmes? You might switch it on and catch Churchill's funeral. Or Martha Longhurst popping her clogs in the Rover's Return. Or the matchless Michael Miles on Take Your Pick! trying to trip some poor bloke with the Yes/No Interlude. You didn't shake your head, did you . . .?

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