Express & Star

Peter Rhodes on Prince Andrew's future, Musk's wealth and it looks like Putin is dying - again

If Vladimir Putin was as ill as some people claim, his army would already be rehearsing for his funeral in Red Square. The latest claim, that he is suffering from both pancreatic cancer and Parkinson's disease, suggests he cannot be long for this world.

Musk – richer than Putin?

But what is the provenance of this claim? It comes from a report in the Daily Mail, based on an account in the Sun which in turn is based on “unverified documents” supplied by “an alleged Russian intelligence source.” So is that a Russian leak – or Chinese whispers?

I referred to Elon Musk last week using the generally-accepted epithet “the world's richest man.” It's worth putting on record that when Musk himself was interviewed on the subject in March he replied: “"I do think that Putin is significantly richer than me.”

Amid all the rubbishing of the disgraced Prince Andrew, a reader loyally declares that he remembers him “piloting a helicopter in the Falklands War, decoying any Exocets away from our ships.”

The 1982 Falklands War was undoubtedly Andrew's finest hour and there is no sadder sight than to see a hero brought crashing down by his own folly. Yet Andrew could still make amends. In 1963 John Profumo was a decorated war hero and Britain's secretary of state for war. He was brought crashing down by a stupid affair, and lying to Parliament. Over the following years, Profumo quietly immersed himself in charitable work and in 1975 he was made a CBE . He lived long enough to be seated next to the Queen at Margaret Thatcher's 70th birthday dinner.

So it is possible to claw your way back from abject disgrace to genuine respectability. But it takes time, hard work, good friends and a very low profile. Over to you, Andy.

In the past few years a mysterious man in a gimp suit has been frightening folk in villages near Bristol. The latest encounter, a few days ago, ended in a very English way with his victims offering the mysterious stranger a cigarette. I was reminded of my interview in 2003 with a couple who had been scared witless near Cannock Chase by a “British Bigfoot” which they described as a “huge ape-like creature”. Funny old world.