Peter Rhodes on holiday plans, a drilling machine and how to become posh - instantly

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

No holiday
No holiday

By an accident of timing Edwin Poots, the newly elected leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, will probably never meet the former President Donald Trump. What fun the headline writers would have had with a Poots and a Trump in the same room. Or the same lift.

Fans of Simon & Garfunkel (ask your grandad) will not be surprised that one of the massive tunnelling machines drilling the way for the monstrous, needless, countryside-destroying behemoth we call HS2, has been named Cecilia. Cecilia, you're breaking our hearts.

In the past I have complained about the unreliability of crystal balls. Take, for example, the one I consulted some weeks ago, in light of the excellent Covid jab statistics from Tel Aviv, when I recommended Israel as the ideal holiday destination for 2021. Better give it a year or so.

A new survey lists 40 things that make you posh. For example, you never discuss money and you call your parents “mummy” and “daddy", even when you are an adult. You ride horses, refer to dinner as “supper” and dine off silver. One thing is missing from this survey. From the BBC drama The Pursuit of Love, we now know that the very posh don't talk about getting pregnant. The leading lady announced the news: “I'm in pig.”

By birth, family connections and education, you may not qualify as posh. However, there is a short-cut to instant poshness. It is a small vellum certificate, signed by the Queen, which magically ticks all the posh boxes. At a stroke, you can shoot, dine off silver, slurp champagne, play croquet, laugh rather too loudly and drive everywhere in Land Rovers. This passport to posh is known as a commission in Her Majesty's Armed Forces. The only downside is that when you shoot, complete strangers tend to shoot back.

I am of humble stock. When I was born my father was in service at a stately home and observed first-hand the manners and language of the aristocracy. He reckoned you could always spot a real toff by the use of the word “use.” While normal folk would say: “Didn't he use to?” his Lordship would say: “Usen't he to . . .?

And talking of language, my item on raising a grandchild and finding yourself talking nursery-babble reminds a reader of the baby language that parents pick up and never drop. Guilty as charged. When our daughter was a toddler she could never pronounce the name of the holiday resort Sidmouth. From that day to this we all call it Sniddermuff. Similar examples welcome.

The difference between human sub-editors and computer sub-editing is that the human usually knows where to cut a sentence short, but the micro-chip doesn't. This truncated online headline caught my eye: “Restaurant owner appeals against the council's decision to remove his pe...” Read on and you discover it's his pergola.

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