Express & Star

Peter Rhodes on busking, sub-zero driving and something nasty in the air

After my piece on the 1960s band Crosby, Stills and Nash, a reader says he can't imagine me in Sixties hippy gear. Another suggests I might try busking. Been there, done that.

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Busking – hard money

I have photos to prove that I once possessed not only a muslin shirt and loon jeans but also a 28ins waist. As for busking, while researching a feature on street musicians, I once spent a bleak few hours, plucking in the middle of Birmingham.

My fellow busker and I packed it in shortly after the competition arrived in the shape of an accordionist. He was not only a brilliant musician but was tall, tanned, bearded and rakishly good-looking. He also had only one leg. The punters' money fled from our pitch to his like lemmings to Beachy Head. I made a princely £1.30 which included some Irish coins. It was the hardest money I ever earned.

Police in Essex stopped a woman driver belting along the M25 with her windscreen obscured by ice. I'm aware of men driving sub-zero with no more than an icy peep-hole to see through. I assumed that women had a better sense of self-preservation. Apparently not. Behold, Igloo Woman - the natural partner for Igloo Man.

Gordon Brown says a two-tier health service, with richer people paying for GP appointments, would spell the death of the NHS. But it's already here. Forget that nonsense about the NHS being “free at the point of delivery”. Try telling your local optician or dentist that you've come for your free teeth or specs.

As one dodgy week in politics passes into history, to be followed no doubt by another, always remember this. The shifty, prevaricating MPs today offering their explanation to the nation were once chosen by a selection committee of presumably rational men and women who eyed them up and down and thought: “Yup, he's the best possible person to be our Member of Parliament.” Strange but true.

According to our Ministry of Defence, Russian troops in Ukraine are mocking their new commander, General Valery Gerasimov, for ordering front-line soldiers to shave. But there is a good reason why soldiers shave. It gives a reliable seal between the skin and a gas mask. It may be that Gerasimov is a parade-ground perfectionist. Or maybe he knows the nerve-gas bombs are coming.