Express & Star

Peter Rhodes on gifts, goppies and the stirring of a new kind of Brexit

Notes on a recession. Headlines from the misery of the Sunday Times news pages: “Boss removed over boy's mould death,” “Tell Sid to turn down the thermostat,” “Farmers crack over egg shortages.”

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Photo: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire

Meanwhile, here are some blingy Xmas gift suggestions from the same newspaper's Style magazine: Portofino wristwatch, £6,200; Signet ring of 'single-mine' gold, £4,900; Earrings with moonstones, £1,335. Just remember, we're all in this together.

In the early stages of the Brexit negotiations, a group of German businesspeople suggested Britain might be suitable for “associate membership” of the European Union. This struck me as a sound idea for those of us who had no objection to existing trading links but were deeply worried about the loss of sovereignty, ever-closer political union, domination by Euro-courts and the bunging of large sums of money to unelected commissioners.

The German proposal vanished without trace but something similar has emerged with UK officials allegedly talking to the EU about a new EU/UK relationship, similar to that between Switzerland and Brussels. We must beware of back-door reunion but no-one ever claimed Brexit was perfect and if there's a chance to improve it, why not talk?

What might a Swiss-style Brexit look like? Probably a lot like Brexit but, in the Swiss cheese tradition, full of holes.

PS: an unnamed “senior Cabinet member” has denied utterly, absolutely and with the full authority of the Prime Minister, that no Swiss-style arrangement is under discussion. The PM promises that no EU law will be imposed on us. So something's definitely happening.

According to reports, “A group of leading podcasters” is determined to save dialect words which are said to be on the verge of extinction. Thus, terms such as “scrammed-up”, a Devonian expression for being very cold, or “blatherskite”, a Durham word for gossip, may endure. But what of “goppy?”

I have heard this word used by only one person, a Black Countryman in the 1970s, describing a young lady who did not come up to his exacting standards. It's a word that could be saved as an historical treasure - and then instantly banned for misogyny.

BT has changed the format of its emails. It took me a while to figure out whether I knew anybody called Bill Ready.