Peter Rhodes on singular islands, unreliable shorthand and a stealth tax to fund the BBC

History repeats itself. From this column July 20 last year: “We old folk might forego a whopping eight per cent rise in the state pension in order to spread the money more fairly. I have to report that this idea has proved about as popular as a corn plaster in a yoghurt.”

Orkney, not Orkneys
Orkney, not Orkneys

Today, the Government is proposing to go ahead with a 10 per cent rise in the state pension, based on the latest inflation rates. So I'll say it again – some of the richest people in Britain are pensioners and millions of pensioners if not wealthy are comfortable. It's the young families, in crummy jobs on crummy pay, facing crummy pensions, who really need more help.

Incidentally, when this government suggests adding the TV licence fee to council tax because it's “fair,” it lies. The fair and transparent solution is to add it to income tax. Bumping up council tax to keep Auntie Beeb afloat is nothing more than a dodgy, Blair-era stealth tax. They call themselves Conservatives? Gordon Brown would be proud of them.

A reader upbraids me for referring to “The Orkneys” on the grounds that it should be Orkney and “the plural does not exist.” He's right. However, I seem to recall an old song extolling the attractions of the place (“All bloody clouds, and bloody rains / No bloody kerbs, no bloody drains,” etc) , which was always introduced at our local folk club as “Bloody Orkneys.”

After my recent item on mishearing a radio report, a reader blushes with shame at her memory, as a very new hospital medical secretary many years ago, whose shorthand note seemed to refer to a patient called Alan Fisher. Strangely, there was no Alan Fisher on the ward. There was, however, an anal fissure.

Still on medical stuff, some years ago an anaesthetist gave me a jab with the cheery words: “Here comes the gin-and-tonic effect.” On these hot evenings, with a bottle of artisan honey-flavoured gin (God bless the person who invented Father's Day), I am enjoying the real thing. Doesn't G&T evaporate quickly?

An Iranian military speedboat which roared close to a US warship earlier this month has a name to remember. Boghammer.

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