Peter Rhodes on birds, bars and belting out the ultimate royal anthem

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Autumn visitors – a long-tailed tit
Autumn visitors – a long-tailed tit

I bought a fridge online at the weekend. The payment system removed the money from my account in a nano-second. Unfortunately, they managed to overcharge me by £35. Customer Service explains that refunding my money will take “three to four working days, maybe five”. What we used to call “the miracle of the micro-chip” can be a very one-sided sort of miracle.

During the period of national mourning I spent a while researching Handel's great royal anthem Zadok the Priest, one of the most stirring pieces of church music ever written and likely to be played at King Charles's coronation. Many years ago I was in a 1,000-voice choir that sang it in a schools' concert at Birmingham Town Hall. Our music teacher had drilled us to count all 22 bars of the soaring orchestral intro that leads into the chorus. But come the day, you didn't need to count anything. The music simply swept you along until you sensed the moment had arrived and 1,000 young voices let rip. What a day. What a privilege.

And how strange, all these years later, to be able to use a computer to discover everything you want to know about Zadok the Priest. Having said that, Google has no sense of dignity and took me quickly from Handel's Zadok to an online plumber offering the Zadok Rimless Close-Coupled Toilet & Soft-Close Seat.

Nature corner. Every year at about this time my garden is suddenly full of long-tailed tits, the so-called “lollipop birds”. They are charming little creatures, gorging on the insects that congregate on our plum tree. This is where the long-tailed tits forage in the early autumn. So where do they spend the rest of the year?

My thanks to the reader who writes to tell us that if people are rich it's because they “rob all the money”. Politics for beginners.

With pinpoint accuracy and dazzling expertise, Nasa smashes a Dart space probe at 14,000 mph into an asteroid seven million miles from Earth. But Nasa can't launch its new Artemis moon rocket if it looks like rain. As Spock might observe: “Illogical, captain.”

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