Peter Rhodes on taking the knee, a princess's décor and a BT call that wasn't

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Mr Tumble
Mr Tumble

I've just taken a call from someone claiming to be from BT about unauthorised use of my broadband, which may result in it being closed down, unless I let him have access to my computer. He sounded fairly plausible but, being a suspicious type, I told him I thought he might possibly be a crook, so I was hanging up. At that point he called me a mother****** so I'm guessing it probably wasn't BT.

Locked down and snowed in with our baby grandson, there is always the danger of spending too much time in the company of Mr Tumble on BBC Cbeebies. You know it's serious when you start laughing at Mr Tumble's jokes. What sort of dog does magic tricks? A Labracadabrador.

An image of the Princess Royal and her husband, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, popped up on Twitter while they were watching Scotland playing England in the Six Nations rugby. Their home in Gloucestershire didn't look particularly royal, more “rather ordinary,” as one sniffy glossy magazine put it. One Tweeter noted: “I feel a little claustrophobic just looking at all the stuff in their living room.” Another added: "What a hovel - nothing matches and stuff everywhere."

People still don't get it, do they? Around the world, the only royal residences that look really sparkly and golden-royal are the ones occupied by second-rate royals playing the part. Anne has nothing to prove. She's been around long enough to choose jolly-jumble comfort over showiness, even if the result looks like a Home Counties semi in need of a dusting. I recall once being ushered into an ante-room at Buckingham Palace which was heated by a particularly naff flame-effect electric fire. More Hyacinth Bucket than The Crown but so what?

I wonder whether Anne and Tim noticed the spat before the rugby started when most of the Scottish team and a few of the English, did not take the knee in support of Black Lives Matter. Whether it was deliberate or an oversight (did anyone know it was planned?), it gave woke folk an opportunity to display their outrage. Oddly, there was much less fuss the next day when Ireland played Wales and none of the players took the knee.

In both matches, the non-kneelers stood for a moment's silent contemplation. I was reminded of mixed-denomination church services in my youth. Anglicans prayed on their knees while we Methodists adopted “the non-conformist stoop,” still seated but head bowed. No-one would have dreamed of criticising the others for their choice. Respect is about what goes on in your head, not how you arrange your limbs.

The irony, of course, is that having outraged some viewers by not taking the knee, the Scots set about demolishing the bloody Sassenachs on their own Sassenach turf as millions of Scotland supporters slavered with delight and satisfaction. There's not even the tiniest hint of racism in England v Scotland sports fixtures, right?

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