Peter Rhodes on booze, banter and queuing for a booster

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Do 'ave a Dubonnet
Do 'ave a Dubonnet

Our changing language. “Banter” once meant light-hearted ridicule. Today, as the Yorkshire Cricket Club affair reveals, “banter” is the last resort of somebody trying to defend the indefensible. As in: “It was just banter with the lads.” Usually followed by: “Here's my resignation letter.”

The Queen has issued a royal warrant to Dubonnet, makers of her favourite tipple. Years ago, many of us trippers in France for the first time automatically asked for a Dubonnet because it was the only drink name we knew, thanks to The French actor Fernandel, with his TV ads and his heavily accented: “Do 'ave a Dubonnet.” Her Majesty took him at his word. Many times, by all accounts.

I am boosted. I had my third Covid-19 jab this week, no thanks to the NHS online booking system. For months, thousands of us have been quickly and efficiently jabbed by doctors and nurses at a requisitioned hotel just outside town. But when it came to the booster jabs, the national online system didn't even mention our hotel. Instead, we were ordered to choose one of several walk-in centres between 5.9 and 13.5 miles away, which strikes me as a hell of a walk.

By chance, I bumped into an old friend in town who is a doctor. I was moaning about the passing of the hotel jab centre. He insisted it was still operating, no appointment required. In fact, as a lady at the hotel explained huffily when I turned up, it was supposed to be appointments-only. However when I uttered the magic words: “My doctor sent me,” delivered with a hint of heroic resignation, I suddenly acquired guest status and was waved through. There are not many problems in life that can't be solved by dropping a name.

Mind you, we have more to worry about than Covid. The family is recovering from some sort of super-cold our live-in grandson brought home from nursery. There is no sadder sight than a poorly toddler; all the light goes out of them. Poor little Ruben produced industrial quantities of snot and his big, bright eyes turned red and rheumy with the eyelashes gummed together. A pitiful sight.

But at 21 months you quickly recover. After a couple of wretchedly still and silent days, Ruben found his wooden hammer and demolished the Fuzzy Felt Farm. He is, as they say, improving.

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