Express & Star

Peter Rhodes on price rises, spy balloons and a very short royal scoop

My preferred weekend reading has just gone up by 50p to £4. In the same newspaper it was announced that one brewer is predicting rises of up to 40p for a pint of beer from April.

The confident Mr Everett

Which means the Englishman's simple pleasure of reading a Daily Telegraph while enjoying a pint of best bitter could soon leave you with no change from £10. Did you ever, in your wildest dreams, imagine you'd one day be living in such a wealthy country?

I suggested last week the waiting time for a new passport was about six weeks. My latest email from the Passport Office says it could be up to 10 weeks. I suspect this is a case of WFHNVH. Working from home, not very hard.

The armouries of the United States are crammed with hypersonic, unstoppable, multiple-warhead, multi-megaton, artificial-intelligence-guided weaponry, seemingly straight out of Star Wars. How bizarre that the latest step towards World War III involved a rubber balloon. The Brothers Montgolfier would be so proud.

The saga of the double-rapist trans prisoner in Scotland has kicked right into touch that article of woke faith: “A trans woman is a woman.” As slogans go, it was always a bit too slick, a tad too clever, a mite too simple to be true. And so, like smart little buzz-phrases through the ages, it needs to be rewritten in the light of real life. How about this for the round, unvarnished truth? “A trans woman is a woman - except when she's a bloke wearing a wig.” Sorted.

“They seem to be a dramatic pair that fixates on the negative.” Kinsey Schofield, royal commentator based in Los Angeles, describing Harry and Meghan.

Meanwhile, the award for the shortest-lived royal scoop of all time surely goes to the actor Rupert Everett who, in Saturday's Telegraph, told readers with utter confidence: “I know who the woman he (Prince Harry) lost his virginity to is. And it wasn't behind a pub. And it wasn't in this country.”

Barely 24 hours later, former royal groom Sasha Walpole revealed in the Mail on Sunday that it was her. In a field. Behind a pub. Very much in this country. Red-faced, Rupert?