Peter Rhodes on fiddling the pensions figures, the end of lawns and the fan with a fiery fundament

I suggested last week that we old folk might forego a whopping eight per cent rise in the state pension in order to spread the money more fairly. I have to report that this idea has proved about as popular as a corn plaster in a yoghurt.


The attitude of most readers who have made contact is that they thoroughly deserve a big rise in their state pension and if a one-off anomaly in the nation's financial statistics delivers eight per cent, they will gladly spend it.

I thought I had found at least one supporter when his first sentence described me as “a well-informed man.” Sadly, the second sentence read: “But even a well-informed man can be a total prat at times.”

Anyway, this may all be academic. While the old formula might deliver an eight per cent rise, Chancellor Rishi Sunak is today being urged to use a different set of figures. As they say in economist circles, he might “tweak a key metric used for the pensions triple lock.” This tweak could reduce the £750 rise by about £200. Some will see it as a sensible compromise. Others will denounce it as Marxism. Groucho Marxism, that is. It was Groucho who famously declared: “Those are my principles, and if you don't like them, well, I have others.” For principles, read figures.

The traditional English lawn is under attack. First, Gardens Illustrated magazine and the RSPB advised us, in the name of biodiversity, not to mow in May. Next, TV gardener Monty Don condemns mowing thus: “It makes a filthy noise and is about the most injurious thing you can do to wildlife". Yet even greater forces may be at work. Bosses everywhere report a reluctance among furloughed workers to get back to work. The pandemic has focused minds on a quieter, less busy lifestyle. Or to put it another way, slobbing around. It's not that we don't want to mow the lawns. We don't want to do anything.

In the old days all a football fan needed was a ticket, a football rattle and a song sheet. Compare that simple list with the 20 cans of cider, three grams of cocaine, smartphone, fistful of cash and a smoke distress flare packed by one 25-year-old England fan who, before the first kick of the Euros final, entertained the crowds by inserting the flare into his backside and igniting it. It hardly needs adding that this walking volcano did not have a ticket. He claims to have bribed a steward to get in. And frankly, once The Man With The Flaming Bum has taken a seat and made it smoulder, who's going to ask him to move?

Anyway, to bring the story up to date, the fiery fan says he has no regrets for “the biggest day of my life.” He got away with minor burns and is looking forward to the World Cup in Qatar. I bet the Qatari police give him a rocket.

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