The only time I paid much attention to the Tory leadership contest was when Tom Tugendhat, discussing organised crime, talked of “decapitating the leadership of these gangs”. He was advocating jailing them, not literally chopping off their heads. More's the pity.
The number of pubs in England and Wales has fallen below 40,000 – the lowest ever. It is also reported that in some pubs beer is being sold at over £6 a pint while the average price is £4.08. Can there possibly be a connection?
Technology ruins so many things. Until now, if you spotted a dog locked in a car in a heatwave, you could become a local hero by smashing the window and saving the pooch. Applause all round. But not for much longer. The latest electric vehicles have a dog-safe function which keeps the car – and your dog – at a low temperature. It even displays the temperature for the benefit of passers-by. Whether this will stop people smashing the windows of shiny new luxury cars remains to be seen. There's always the envy factor.
How did Brits react to all those warnings about keeping out of the sun, avoiding exercise, laying off the booze and dressing in light, airy clothing? In the usual way. They piled into cars, poured themselves into last year's cozzies, got ratted and ran around like idiots on the beach. We are stuck with a race-memory of dismal, rainy British summers when every bright spell was a rarity, to be soaked up by maximum exposure. Even the direst warnings go unheeded.
Some years ago in Gibraltar I heard a group of squaddies being sternly warned that sunburn and sunstroke would be regarded as self-inflicted wounds, leading to fines or detention. Even so, the lads spent hours on the beach and paid the price. I heard a sergeant-major telling the colonel how badly one soldier was burned, in a line that Rudyard Kipling would have envied: “Sir, he's got blisters like his guts was 'anging aht.”
There comes a moment in any column when a thread has run its course, in this case the one about basking sharks and associated fishy tales. A reader says he bumped into Dean Martin on a pier as a gigantic eel swam by. Dean said: “That's a moray.”