Express & Star

Peter Rhodes on jewels, blood pressure and a rush for piano lessons

In my annual blood-pressure review (by phone, naturally), I suggest that, having been on the same tablets for years, something new might be worth a try. At this stage I discover I have reached a medical milestone.


Until now, the aim has been to keep BP low. Now, at a certain age, our risk factors change. Stroke and heart attacks still lurk in the background but a new danger is a fall which might be precipitated by changing medication. You believe pride goeth before a fall? So does low blood pressure.

I'm not surprised that Republic, the anti-monarchy movement targeted by police at the Coronation, has doubled its membership. It occurred to me at the time that, far from complaining about the cops, Republic should have paid them for the publicity.

Nor will I be amazed if, after Princess Kate's performance at Eurovision, piano sales suddenly take off and thousands of kids sign up for piano lessons. We are a nation of imitators.

How many of you get a rush of pride from knowing that the massive Koh-i-Noor diamond, acquired in the days of the British Empire, is safely stored in the Tower of London, behind British bars and British locks? No? Me neither.

As a campaign gathers pace for the big diamond and other gems to be repatriated to India, consider the nature of precious stones and metals. Wherever they are, and however they got there, gold, silver and gems are usually dug out by poor people on the orders of rich people and then acquired by even richer people. They are not the property of “the people” and they're nothing to be proud of. Beautiful they may be but many are symbols of greed, inequality and cruelty – just like slave ships, manacles and whips.

If India wishes to acquire these imperial trinkets and show them off as though they somehow enrich the people of India, good luck to it. But I can't see the average Indian citizen jumping for joy. And how do you explain the importance of owning a diamond worth an estimated £300 million at a time when, according to research, 15 per cent of your population is undernourished?

Anyway, if we return jewels to India, can we have our steam trains back?