Peter Rhodes on a woman's work, a rare headline and a brave blog

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

FROM time to time a newspaper sub-editor writes a headline and knows instinctively that he or she will never write anything quite like it again. From a health feature: "The vibrating catheter that shakes off bugs."

The offending image

A READER tells me his local garden centre is accepting old plastic pots for recycling and suggests all garden centres should do the same. Sorry, but I get a distinct whiff of virtue-signalling here. As long as that old, fading plastic pot is in your garden it isn't going to choke a turtle or maim a penguin. The moment you "recycle" it, you hand it over to other people and lose control of it. There is no earthly reason why plastic from Britain should end up in the South China Sea, and yet it does. There is something rotten in the "recycling" business and until it is sorted, don't add to it.

THE enduring image of International Women's Day was of an Oxford University cleaner removing graffiti from some steps. Nothing unusual about that, surely? A cleaner cleans. It's what cleaners do. But in this case the cleaner was a woman and four men were said to be "looking on." This infuriated a professor who Tweeted the image with her comment: "Oxford security makes a woman cleaner scrub out 'Happy International Women’s Day' on the Clarendon steps. What an image for #IWD." It has now gone viral and you can guess what happened next.

IN the grand tradition of our age, Oxford University grovelled with this apology: "We are deeply sorry for this and for offence caused. This should not have happened." I'm still puzzled. What should not have happened? Should the female cleaner have been denied work and a male cleaner summoned instead? That's discrimination, isn't it? Should the men in the picture have insisted on doing the scrubbing for the woman? Surely that's deeply patronising. I suspect the real offence caused by this image is that it reminds middle-class people in well-paid jobs that everything they enjoy is made possible by low-paid people scrubbing, cleaning and repairing things. It may not be the most photogenic, glamorous or fulfilling work but it pays the rent, feeds the kids and only becomes embarrassing when some strident busybody splashes it all over cyberspace.

A NUMBER of readers have taken me to task for my appalling ignorance in never having heard of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. I guess the names that stick in our minds are the ones in subjects that interest us. To be brutally frank, Central American painters with big eyebrows do not feature in my list. On the one hand, as a military buff, I know who Rawlinson, Plumer and Gough were. On the other hand, having no great interest in football, Liverpool or spitting, until this week I had never heard of Jamie Carragher.

AFTER last week's item on prostate cancer, a reader tells me he is in the early stages of treatment and is, rather bravely in my view, recording his experiences in a blog. It is available via this link.

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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