Peter Rhodes on illegal number plates, an RAF legend and why Christmas Day should be chosen by the Met Office

What do we love about Christmas? Traditional snowy scenes. What do we hate about Christmas? The three-month lead-in of grotesque pigging-out, boozing and overspending. What can be done to improve things? Let us think radically. From now on, let the date of Christmas be chosen by the Met Office.

An RAF Victor
An RAF Victor

Brilliant, isn't it? Instead of being tied to December 25, which has no biblical significance, let's ask the weather forecasters to choose a day that looks promisingly wintry. White Christmases, now so rare, would become commonplace. And because forecasters work only a few days ahead, we'd be spared that endless built-up.

This year, for example, Christmas Day would have been last Sunday. The date would have been announced last week, giving us just a few tinglingly hectic days to prepare. Ready or not, Xmas is coming, set in a winter wonderland. Naturally there would be losers, notably those who left the food-storing and present-buying too late. But that would only add to the joy of the winners, smugly handing out presents bought weeks ago and carving a turkey that was deep-frozen when Blair was in charge, while snidely smiling at those who did not plan so well. So that's a white Christmas and a happy new sneer.

No, I can't see it happening either. We radical thinkers are always outnumbered by humbuggers.

Green Flag, the road-recovery people, issue a seasonal warning about motoring offences which can cost you £1,000. The list of shame includes dirty number plates and plates with illegal character spacing. This presupposes you happen to encounter a cop who is remotely interested in such things. Does such a paragon exist?

I suggested recently that an aftershave inspired by a Russian warplane might not smell of much. A reader insists one can “bask in the smell of aeroplanes” at the RAF Museum, Cosford. And I do recall, 31 years ago this week, sitting in the cockpit of an RAF Victor tanker in Bahrain as the first Gulf War kicked off. A very Bigglesy sort of smell.

Some of the younger American pilots in Bahrain had never seen a Victor before and reckoned, from its graceful lines, that this must be the last word in British stealth technology. It was pointed out to them that the venerable Victor was designed in 1947 and had been flying since 1952.

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