Peter Rhodes: Mangled English and a long-delayed groping

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

OUR changing language. I ordered something online and this email arrived: “Your goods have been dispatched on an Overnight and will be attempted on Friday.” Almost but not entirely quite unlike English.

Going to a good cause – traditional paper poppies

NEWS follows its own fashions. In the 1960s headlines were dominated by atomic scares; today we are fixated on sexual misdeeds. So while you have been bombarded with news about somebody’s hand brushing someone else’s knee years ago, a radioactive cloud has been quietly drifting across western Europe and barely been mentioned.

A FEW days before the ceremonies of remembrance, Border Force officials seized a cache of fake poppy branded jewellery, key rings and scarves estimated to be worth about £150,000. Many were branded with the words ‘Lest We Forget’ and infringed the Royal British Legion’s copyright. This consignment of dodgy items arrived by air freight from China. And while the Border Force should be congratulated, this is only the tip of a vast and cynical iceberg of exploitation.

FAKE poppy items, sold purely for profit with not a penny going to veterans’ charities, are big business and you don’t have to seize parcels at our borders to find them. Just go to eBay and you’ll find dozens of traders selling poppy tat. Some claim to make a donation to the official Poppy Fund but for many it’s just a chance to make money from the sacrifice of others. The old paper poppy may not look as chic as the many poppy-themed metal badges you can buy today. But at least you know the money you gave for it went to the people who deserve it.

THE armed forces and emergency services attend incidents and see sights the rest of us are spared. Part of their defence mechanism is graveyard humour. To outsiders, it can seem wicked, bleak and offensive, as when two Bristol cops said a runaway teenage boy ‘deserved to be raped’. It was a terrible thing to say but it was a private conversation within their patrol car after a bitterly frustrating time trying to save the boy who repeatedly ran away. But these days, nothing is private. Their unwise words were somehow caught on the mother’s answerphone. The result is that two highly trained and desperately needed officers with exemplary records have been sacked. None of us is perfect; we have all said things we would not want repeating. And the deeper we pry into private moments, the more shocking words and behaviour we will find. How long before a spy camera will detect an officer’s private remarks which are then translated by a lip-reader and found to be unacceptable?If there is a single soldier, cop, firefighter or paramedic who does not occasionally say bad things, I have yet to meet them. To reprimand them may be appropriate, but to sack them is outrageous.

MORE on the bitter-sweet subject of young men being sexually abused by older women in the workplace. A reader describes his first day at work in a furniture factory: “I was warned that the sewing department, staffed entirely by ladies, would pretty quickly kidnap me and subject me to ‘special treatment.’ of an embarrassing nature.” To cut a long story short, that was in 1968 and he’s still waiting.

Peter Rhodes

By Peter Rhodes

Award-winning columnist and blogger. Keeping an eye on the tribulations and trivia of a fast-changing world


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