Peter Rhodes on quiet Nortons, noisy trains and recycling human remains

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

A grave affair
A grave affair

Are they mumbling or are we going deaf? I woke to hear someone on the radio telling us the Orkneys are “a land of nudists, poetry and song.” Music, apparently.

Norton says it will soon be building battery-powered motorcycles. This will mean the end of the great Norton roar and also of a famous limerick about the young girl from Hillmorton which ends with “a 650 Norton.” The words in between are not quite the thing for a family newspaper.

The Guardian reported from the weekend cost-of-living march in London, introducing readers to three marchers who explained why they were there: Sonia Adesara “a doctor working in Tottenham”; Andy Lewis, “a sixth-form college teacher”, and Daniel Kennedy “train signaller, Birmingham”. Just three ordinary, random citizens driven on to the streets by austerity? Not exactly. Five minutes on the internet reveals that Kennedy is an RMT workplace rep, Lewis is an NASUWT official and Adesara is a member of the Central Council of the Socialist Health Association. Can't imagine why the Guardian didn't mention any of that, can you?

The only good thing to come out of HS2, the screaming behemoth that nobody wants, is the opportunity for archaeologists to dig before thousands of acres of land are bulldozed. And even then, the discovery of a few Saxon spears is hardly fair exchange for the despoliation of England.

Today, scientists are thrilled at the discovery of 130 graves in Buckinghamshire. But there is a powerful case for not disturbing the remains. These were people much like us who expected their earthly bodies to lie undisturbed for eternity. They were laid to rest. Just as HS2 should be.

Still on cadavers, scientists are investigating a grisly theory that after the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, the bones of some of the dead were turned into fertiliser to be spread on English fields.

Those of us of a certain age may recall Roger McGough's 1967 anti-war poem, Why Patriots Are a Bit Nuts in the Head. It describes soldiers' remains being “spread over some corner of a foreign field / To facilitate in later years the growing of oats by some peasant yobbo”. It helps to think of it as recycling.

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