A new job for Margo. Peter Rhodes on judging villages, the miracle of Netflix and driving in Wolverhampton

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

ACCORDING to new data, it is harder to pass your driving test in Wolverhampton than in most other parts of the country.

Penelope Keith

Which poses an obvious question: how many drivers in Wolverhampton actually bother to take the test?

WHEREVER you drive in Britain you will witness occasional incidents of carelessness and inattention. But Wolverhampton is the only place where I've seen a driver with a plate on his lap eating a meat pie with a knife and fork, at the traffic lights. It takes a brave cop to come between a Black Country man and his pastie.

NO matter how they package and rebrand her, whether for fact, fiction or documentaries, Penelope Keith, currently presenting Village of the Year (C4), is forever Margo, the sniffy, houseproud snob from The Good Life. And whichever village finally emerges as the winner in this oddly-conceived daytime show, I bet you won't be allowed to visit it until Margo has made you take off your muddy boots.

INCIDENTALLY, I see one of the shortlisted villages is my regular holiday haunt of Beer in Devon. Whatever Margo says, just stay away. You'd hate it. Really.

THE miracle of Netflix goes on. Five years ago the BBC screened The Wrong Mans, a comedy caper created by, written and starring James Corden and Mathew Baynton. It was shown in the traditional TV way, in 30-minute episodes, one episode per week. And because the story was so complicated, if you missed one episode you lost the plot. I've been watching The Wrong Mans again in two-hour chunks on Netflix and the whole experience is transformed. From concept to finale, what a brilliant series it is.

ONE of the claims made by a retired officer during the debate on army recruiting is that war is good for recruitment. I know of no official figures to support this but I do recall the steady stream of would-be heroes who turned up at my local TA drill hall in 1982 eager to join the colours and do their bit in the Falklands. Some were of the generation that just missed National Service when it was wound up in the 1960s. "I always felt I was cheated of something," one of them told me.

CHEATED? But of what? The great thing about National Service was the unknown. I knew two blokes who were called up in the 1950s. One spent his two years "counting blankets at Catterick," as he put it. The other spent it on Sunderland flying boats in the Far East. When people talk about bringing back National Service, they should tell us what sort of National Service they mean. Put me down for the Sunderlands.

POLICE in California break into a house and find 13 malnourished siblings aged from two to 29. They are said to be as pale as vampires and some were chained to their filthy beds. I bet this will turn out to be somebody doing God's work. Yessir, praise the Lord and whip yer children good.

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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