Peter Rhodes on green energy, a new word for mistress and a lockdown problem with pies

The news agency Associated Press has told its journalists to avoid the term “mistress” on the grounds that it may imply women are to blame for affairs.

Who ate all the pies?
Who ate all the pies?

Instead, the reporters are advised to use alternative terms such as “friend.” And how long before the word “friend,” accompanied with a long, meaningful wink or a tapping of the nose, means exactly the same, or worse, as “mistress?”

Over the years, Private Eye magazine has taken seemingly innocent terms and given them a darker meaning. “Tired and emotional” means drunk and “Ugandan discussions” means sex.

Both are best, of course, when shared with a (wink, wink) friend.

Another term of our time is “First-World Problems,” meaning issues that matter a great deal to us relatively wealthy people of the developed world but don't count for a hill of beans anywhere with real problems.

Consider the issue of my tiny little ramekins.

Ever since this lockdown began and we turned to home-delivery from a supermarket, my order has included an occasional pie from the Charlie Bigham's range. Each comes in a neat little ceramic bowl.

They are freezer, oven and microwave proof and far too good to throw away. But they have no obvious use.

First-World problem: they are cluttering up my kitchen cupboards; as of today I have 19. It is a sobering thing to open the cupboard door, find all those little dishes at eye level, ask yourself: “Who ate all those pies?” and then lower your eyes and find the answer resting on your trouser belt. .

In theory, as gas domestic boilers are phased out, we'll all switch to heat pumps or biomass systems.

In reality, a new survey shows a third of rural households in the West Midlands say they're not prepared to pay anything towards the change. No surprises there.

There are broadly three options for Parliament. The first is merely to insist that all new-built homes have emission-free heating.

The second is to provide generous grants to re-engineer older houses.

And the third is to make it illegal to sell or rent any house that doesn't reach the latest standards. In other words, the state effectively takes control of your home.

I wouldn't be surprised if this emerges as front-runner. When politicians start talking of “the greater good,” the results can be really bad.

As a rule I avoid dialect yarns but this, following my piece on jury duty, is a reader's true account of how, before the trial, a Black Country court usher introduced his jury to the courtroom: “Now Ah'm a-gooin' ter tell yer wot's wot an oo sits wheer.

"Now, that sate up theer, that's fer the judge - e's the gaffer an' e'll tell yo lot wot ter dew. Them sates at the back am fer public an' the blokes from the pairpers.

"Them benches theer am fer yo lot, an' that box up theer is wheer 'im wot's dun it stonds.”

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