Peter Rhodes on racism, eco-cobblers and the online tyranny of big business

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

The way we were
The way we were

And back to the lake, for the first time since November. The sun shines and the world is once again a happy place.

Thanks to lockdown, my old boat was hurriedly hauled out of the water five months ago and not properly covered.

I found a foot of water in the cabin and spent the morning on my knees in what looked like Bovril, baling with buckets and sponges. Ah, the glamour of sailing.

Caravans and boats have this in common. There is nothing so sleek as a washed, dry and well-tended one and nothing so manky as a grubby, damp old one.

Strangely enough, this also applies to humans.

You may recall last week's gripping dispatch in which I wondered how long it would take E.On Energy to explain why, when I have a smart meter, the last two electricity bills have been based on estimated readings.

After four days they came back with an email which offers no explanation but tells me they have set up an online account, which I don't want.

I tried to tell them this but it was one of those irritating emails that accepts no replies.

So I took up E.On's offer to “get in touch using our online form,” only to discover: “This page was moved, deleted or doesn't exist.”

Now, I accept that my meter yarn is hardly a matter of life and death.

But it is typical of big business's growing tyranny to force everybody online and to avoid all human contact with customers - and then call it progress.

The panic and disbelief swept like a tornado through the BBC, the Guardian and Britain's other repositories of wokeness.

The Government's review on racism which everyone had expected to come up with the usual “Everything's terrible and it's getting worse” actually concluded that, while everything isn't perfect, Britain is not the hell-hole of racism you might believe; indeed, many other countries could learn from us.

The counter-attack to this report has been noisy and impassioned, which is no surprise.

A vast network – cynics might call it an industry - of advisers, columnists, broadcasters, politicians, academics and community leaders has been built on the mantra that “Everything's terrible and it's getting worse”. Take away that plank and the whole edifice shudders.

Young people, having no memory of the past, are fertile ground for the “Everything's terrible and it's getting worse” seed.

If today's 20-year-olds could spend a day in 1970 and hear the language people used and witness the Alf Garnett attitudes regarded as normal, they would be horrified. They might also be astonished, and even proud, at how far we have come.

Eco-gobbledegook for our time. My latest purchase comes with a sweet little green leaf-shaped cardboard tab bearing the words: “Together with you we endeavor to put every little effort into making the world a better place.” I can only assume Gwyneth Paltrow is on the payroll. The item? A pair of boots, since you ask.

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