Peter Rhodes on short-circuiting lockdown, protesting against beavers and a premature headline

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Jumping the gun
Jumping the gun

Here's the golden rule of haggling. It works around the world, in any currency. If the dealer asks ten, he means eight, so he wants six and it's worth four. So you offer two.

And that's pretty much the thought processes going on among the Great British Public as they digest Uncle Boris's Super-Safe, 118-day escape from lockdown. He says 118 days, so he means 100, so we'll chance it after 50 and, while we're waiting, anybody fancy camping in Snowdonia tomorrow?

Jumping the Covid gun became a way of life for some folk during lockdown and will surely return. Whitehall's carefully-considered delays built in to the process will be ignored. And while we like to tell ourselves it's only a reckless minority of Covidiots who break the rules, I bet the true proportions are nearer 50 per cent wise and 50 per cent thick.

But that's not the scariest statistic of this pandemic. The real shocker, unveiled a few days ago, is that one-third of care-home staff have declined the vaccination. What this seems to mean is that Nan in her nursing home could have two visitors in the same day. The first is a nominated relative, duly vaccinated and clad in protective equipment, who will be allowed, under strict supervision, to hold her hand. Nan's second visitor is a cleaner who has refused the Covid jab 'cos it's all a conspiracy, innit?

Any bio-security system is only as strong as its weakest link. And if thousands of care-home staff are traipsing in an out of care homes and declining the jab, the outlook is bleak.

Last week's item on beavers being shot by landowners in Scotland brought a letter from an angling journalist making the case against “rewilding.” It is an unfashionable cause. The BBC's recent Winterwatch presented the uncritical case for introducing beavers to rivers and streams, creating the impression that beavers simply adore helping humans by building dams which prevent flooding further downstream.

The truth, surely, is that beavers are simply being beavers. Some of their work may help us and some may not. My correspondent presents a long charge-sheet against the rodents, blaming them for everything from wrecking angling waters to undermining houses, causing the collapse of railway embankments and even carrying Covid-19. This may be exaggerated and unproven but it seems to suggest there is an active and acrimonious argument about rewilding and we are only hearing one side of it.

Harry and Meghan are roundly, and snobbishly, condemned for making loadsamoney from their royal connections, as if real royals wouldn't behave like that. Some years ago I covered the opening of a small commercial airport by a senior royal. I was told that HRH's appearance was a commercial arrangement. The fee, I seem to recall, was £700.

“Covid: how we learned to treat it – then beat it” trumpets a headline in one of the tabloids. Crystal ball working perfectly, is it?

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