Peter Rhodes on the triple-lock and Count Arthur

The latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Steve Delaney as Count Arthur Strong
Steve Delaney as Count Arthur Strong

The EU is bunging the Dutch mussel industry more than £770,000 to promote mussel eating among reluctant 25-35 year olds. That's one more Euro-bill we won't have to pay.

Our changing language. A weekend feature on the joys of owning a holiday let suggests making your property dog-friendly in order to accommodate a breed called “pandemic puppies.

“Only 18 months to Qatar.” Why does this phrase, wheeled out before the tears at Wembley had even dried, not fill me with delight?

Watch closely. I am about to talk myself out of £750 a year. That is how much the state pension will rise by if the hallowed triple-lock goes ahead. This formula, pledged in successive Tory election manifestos, ensures that the state pension will rise by at least 2.5 per cent each year, and more if prices or wages are growing faster than 2.5 per cent. But this year, a bizarre combination of wages falling and then suddenly rising sharply as the pandemic ebbed and flowed means that if the triple-lock formula is applied to the letter, the state pension will rise by a whopping eight per cent. At a time when nurses have been offered one per cent. At a time when billions have been lopped off Britain's overseas aid bill. So we old 'uns get richer while nurses get poorer and African wells run dry.

While the image of poor old pensioners is stamped deep in our national psyche, many over -65s, with both state and private pensions, are doing well. By one estimate, the richest 20 per cent of pensioners have an annual income - after tax - of more than £51,000.

Over the past 16 months this government has pumped billions of pounds into the economy, chiefly to keep old people alive. It could be argued that it's time for the oldies to repay the debt. Far from hiking pensions by eight per cent, there is a case for freezing the state pension for a year. We'd all like more money. But not if it's being subsidised by the income tax of nurses, or added to the national debt, to fall like a leaden yoke on the shoulders of the younger generations. We Brits are supposed to believe in fairness. Time to show it.

You can spot a half-hearted football follower by the way he switches from the England-Italy match for half an hour to find something altogether less stressful on the telly. I managed to fit a whole episode of Count Arthur Strong into my Euro 2020 viewing, didn't miss a goal and felt much better for it.

It was the episode when Arthur joined the Scientologists to get free biscuits and got his hat blown off. The Beeb cancelled the sitcom in 2017 after three series, presumably because it broke the first rule of modern TV comedy; it was funny.

Peter Rhodes' new book, Bloody Adjectives, is published by Brewin Books at £8.95

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