Peter Rhodes on animal suicide and a shortage of staff by the seaside

Beer, Devon

Food fit for royalty?
Food fit for royalty?

So that's it. Seven gilded days hurtle by and our umpteenth annual holiday at Beer slips into history. Among the outstanding memories of 2022, thanks to the Kremlin, will be petrol hitting £2 a litre and a small portion of chips reaching £4.

With cod in batter at £9.60 a portion, fish 'n' chips for two which was once a working-class staple, will now cost you a princely £27.20. You might consider driving a few miles to another chippy in hope of cheaper chips, but then you run into the £2 petrol problem.

Not that all our ills can be blamed on Vlad the Insaner. There's a desperate post-Covid shortage of staff down here on the south coast with pubs, hotels and restaurants advertising for workers. One pub put up a blackboard frankly admitting that bar meals will take one hour to arrive at your table. Does anyone else suspect that while some price rises are genuine and unavoidable this summer, one or two traders are, shall we say, making hay while the sun shines? I ask the question as one who has just been rooked for £5.60 for two small ice creams.

And yet the traditional English seaside holiday still has so much to offer. Chips may be dear and ices extortionate but at least your departures and arrivals are guaranteed. Saddest TV interview of the week was with a party of Brits holidaying abroad. Somehow, they had assumed that, while they might have problems getting from Britain to Italy, their return flight was rock-solid guaranteed. Because they never have strikes in Italy, right?

Meanwhile, in Sidmouth, the seafront car park has an amazing low-tech device which dispenses a parking ticket on arrival and, if you over-stay your time, allows you to pay the difference. So that's no CCTV, no threatening signs, no inputting your registration number and no parking fines issued by some rapacious enforcement firm. The device in question is called a human being.

In the main street of Seaton a wounded herring gull flapped pitifully, dragging its broken wing on the ground. Twice it seemed to hurl itself into the path of approaching cars, but both drivers braked and avoided it, which was possibly not the kindest thing, nor what the bird was hoping for. Do animals commit suicide?

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