Peter Rhodes on stray whales, 1930s values and why we won't all be rushing into pubs

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Politically incorrect?
Politically incorrect?

The golden rule of pandemics: Just because you can, it doesn't mean you must.

So from Monday you can stand, cheek by sweaty jowl, in a steaming crowd of drinkers at your much-missed pub. But don't be surprised if some folk stay outside for a week or two - just until we've seen how many of you develop a nasty, dry cough and lose your sense of taste. Let's face it, some of us are cowards. And some of you are canaries.

No, Boris, we do not need a “skills revolution,” no matter how thrilling those words may sound. What we really need is a state education system that guarantees nobody leaves primary school without being able to read and write. Education is like a huge warehouse full of tins of wonderful stuff. Literacy is the tin-opener.

Meanwhile, deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner tells her fellow MPs: “For too long we have been distant from the people we are here to represent.”

That doesn't quite explain why so many horny-handed sons of toil vote for a privileged, bouffant-blond toff and former member of the Bullingdon Club but let us press on. If Rayner and her comrades really want to connect with the workers, they already have a fine parliamentary example of how to do it. Step forward, Dave Nellist.

Nellist, MP for Coventry South-East from 1983-92, stood as “a workers' MP on a worker's wage.” He drew only 40 per cent of his MPs salary which put him on the same wage as a skilled factory worker. He gave the rest to Labour and various charities. He may have been a tad to the Left of today's Starmerites but no-one ever questioned his commitment. Any of today's MPs care to follow that shining example? Thought not.

It's a fine old tradition. First, TV launches some new drama. Next, viewers complain they can't hear the lines because everyone's mumbling. The Pursuit of Love (BBC1) is the latest victim. The real bind, at least on my telly, is that if you binge-watch it on iPlayer, the subtitles don't work.

The Daily Telegraph described The Pursuit of Love's permanently angry father figure, Uncle Matthew (Dominic West) as “politically incorrect.” Only by today's values. In some circles in the 1930s, beating children, hating foreigners and mistrusting educated women was perfectly in order.

The death of a minke whale in the Thames this week followed the usual pattern. Large mammal gets lost and distressed. Hordes of humans congregate, adding to the stress. Large mammal has to be destroyed. Hordes of humans say ah, how sad. The survival rate for whales and suchlike once they enter river estuaries is depressingly low. Wouldn't it be kinder to shoot them on sight?

Prince Michael of Kent allegedly offered to lobby the Kremlin for a £10,000-a-day consultancy fee, even though his office insists he has “no special relationship” with President Putin. So how well-connected is he? Useful Russian phrase: Prints kto? (Prince Who?).

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