Don't put money on Boris's Bridge: Peter Rhodes on a cross-Channel dream, an unlikely role model and a wimpy wolf
MEMO to TV and radio announcers everywhere. We have had 900 years to get the pronunciation right. So is it the Bio Tapestry, the Buyer Tapestry or the Bayer Tapestry?
IF Boris's Island never sees the light of day, then what hope for Boris's Bridge? The Foreign Secretary's latest brainchild, aired at last week's Anglo-French summit, is a great prospect for those of us who do not care to be whizzed under the Channel in sealed containers. And with modern technology, the old fears about ships crashing into a bridge can be overcome. The problem is not so much the difficulty of building a bridge but the blissful ease of tunnelling. Years ago, before the first sod of the Channel Tunnel had been cut, a geologist showed me a diagram of the chalk beneath the Channel. This sort of firm, self-supporting chalk is apparently the best rock in the world for tunnelling. "God wants this tunnel," he told me confidently. Which makes me think the second Channel crossing won't be a bridge, however thrilling that might seem, but another tunnel.
I BET we all thought the missing-wolf saga in Berkshire was going to end with a police marksman and one dead wolf. Instead, Torak the wolf was peacefully led home on a lead. What has become of the sly, howling, slavering, Little Red Riding Hood-eating monsters of folklore? With the obvious exception of the football team, wolves are not what they used to be.
SO farewell, Peter Wyngarde, who has died aged 90, or thereabouts. In the 1960s he was the ultimate role model for us kids determined to break out of gauche teenagerhood and become suave, sophisticated seducers of beautiful girls. We learned to hold our cigarette and whisky glasses like Wyngarde's TV persona Jason King. We wore three-piece suits with waistcoats and rolled our shirt cuffs over our jacket sleeves, just like King. I even drew King's trademark skinny-Zapata moustache on photos of myself, to see how cool I might become once the hormones kicked in.
PUZZLINGLY, the Jason King look never seemed to appeal to girls. In fact, the more Kingy you looked, the more of a turn-off it was and the more the girls sniggered. And then one day we heard that Wyngarde had been arrested for indecency in a gents' lavatory, and everything suddenly made sense. None of which detracts from the fact that Wyngarde was a fine actor with a great brain who survived a traumatic childhood, became a national icon, overcame alcoholism and lived to a great age. As he put it: "I am amazed I am still here." And that was 25 years ago.
ACCORDING to the latest statistics, household spending has just reached £79 a week on cars and transport, £10.60 on holidays and 30p on musical instruments. To put it another way, that's half a new exhaust pipe, three hours in a B&B and a one-tenth share in a kazoo.
PETER Rhodes will be speaking at Wolverhampton Literature Festival on Sunday, January 28. See: www.wolvesliteraturefestival.co.uk/peter-rhodes/4594118684