Peter Rhodes on scary rhymes, wooden rifles and the inevitable tragedy facing Insulate Britain

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

Off to Ukraine? British troops
Off to Ukraine? British troops

Volunteer soldiers in Ukraine are seen training with wooden model rifles for the predicted Russian invasion. It makes a certain sense. If a battery of Russian rockets, a squadron of jet bombers or a regiment of T-72 tanks is coming your way, a pretend rifle is no more useless than a real rifle. And at least you don't have to clean it.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail offers a useful Q&A guide to the Ukraine crisis including: “Any military assistance provided by the UK or US will be covert and deniable.” Daily Mail front-page headline on the same day: “British Troops Sent to Ukraine.”

In the House of Lords debate on tougher laws against public demos, the home affairs minister Baroness Williams of Trafford recalled the road chaos caused by Insulate Britain and spoke for many Brits who have been on the receiving end of an IB lockdown on trains, airlines or roads: “The arguments deployed here tonight are about the middle classes trying to stop working people from going to work.” She's absolutely right. However, there's more to blocking roads than causing a nuisance. So far, IB's battalions of grey-haired, middle-class self-deluders have been lucky. But eventually, if they are stupid enough for long enough, people will die.

Salford University is the latest uni to issue content notices (aka “trigger warnings”) to students about the plots of some books on their literature courses. The books include Jane Eyre (unhappy childhood), Great Expectations (nasty fights) and Browning's poem Porphyria's Lover (the girl gets strangled).

Obviously in these litigious times, the university bosses have to protect themselves from legal action if any student has a fit of the vapours upon reading of Pip's encounter with Magwitch. But it has to be said that nothing on the Salford book list looks even half as unpleasant as the average season of EastEnders or Corrie.

And how, may we ask, did these students ever cope, when they were much younger, with tales about the mass killings of blackbirds, a farmer's wife who chopped off mouse tails or the grisly closing lines of Oranges and Lemons: “And here comes a chopper / To chop off your head.” If they survived the blatant savagery of traditional nursery rhymes, surely they can cope with moody Mr Rochester.

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