Peter Rhodes on gorillas in cars, road safety for infants and the only Tory known by his first name

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Never smile at a crocodile.

Best avoided in cars

BORIS, the only Tory known by his first name, has extended the hand of friendship to the 48 per cent who voted against Brexit, painting a joyous image of an independent UK as a byword for enlightened liberalism. A week after Boris's speech, some Remoaners refuse to be charmed. One of my recent emails from a Fortyeighter blames "geriatric racists" (I think he means us) for betraying the youth of Britain, claiming that leaving the EU will wreck their careers. It should be pointed out that, if you've got what it takes to become an international jet-setting success, flitting around the world with a passport stuffed full of exotic customs stamps, you'll do it whether we're in the EU or not. By all means insult us geriatric racists, but don't blame your shortcomings on our votes.

INCIDENTALLY, it's not strictly true that Boris is the only Tory known by his first name. His first name is not Boris but Alexander. His family call him Al.

THE Wildlife Photographer of the Year People's Choice Award goes to Jo-Anne McArthur for her tender image of an orphaned gorilla embracing her human rescuer in the back of a car. McArthur has not only given us a photograph to cherish but also a wise tip if you're ever up the jungle. She points out that Pikin the gorilla had been sedated and was still sleepy from the drug when the picture was taken. "I think it goes without saying," says the photographer, "that one should never get in a car with an alert gorilla."

I AM reminded of that other useful wildlife warning: Never smile at a crocodile. (Don't be taken in by his welcome grin / He's imagining how well you'd fit within his skin). You never forget the songs you learned with your toddler.

STILL on infancy, one of the things we learned by heart all those years ago in Kington Mixed Infants was our times tables. We did it the old-fashioned way, by reciting them in class at a time in life when the human brain is like a strip of Sellotape in a lint factory. Those tables stuck. Later generations were spared times tables, on the grounds that they infringed their self-expression, or some such cobblers. Times tables come in and out of fashion (Whitehall's latest idea is for table tests for eight-year-olds). This means one generation may know them but the next may not. I once bought nine items each costing £3 at the builders' merchant. When I handed the cashier £27 before he'd even used the till, he looked at me wide-eyed, as though I were practising black magic.

THE other thing we learned at primary school was to walk up the road and around the corner to the school canteen in pairs, holding hands. At the age of five there was nothing more humiliating than the Big Kids behind you whispering: "Babies hold hands." One memorable day I rebelled against babyhood, left the school without holding hands and was promptly knocked down, ironically enough by the school-meals van.

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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