Peter Rhodes on flatulent advertising, the Windrush crisis and how Mr Babbage became a Cabbage
YOU may be surprised to learn that the Latin phrase "casus belli," meaning a cause of war, was wrongly spelt in this column a few days ago as "causus belli."
My old Latin master, on the other hand, would be not in the least surprised. I must write out 100 times: "People called Romanes, they go the house."
A REPORT recently claimed that even moderate drinking can shorten your life. But don't you just know that any day now there will be another report claiming that moderate drinking is good for you? Father Ted's famous words on religion - "That's the great thing about Catholicism - it's very vague and no-one knows what it's really all about" - apply just as well to medicine.
THAT great historian of our age, Philomena Cunk, made a good point in her series on the history of the United Britain of Great Kingdom (BBC2) concerning the development of computers. How very odd it is that the inventor of the first programmable computer or "difference engine," Charles Babbage (1791-1871) created the prototype of a device which, thanks to predictive texting 200 years later, would always spell his name as Cabbage.
PEDANT alert. I am perfectly aware, thanks, that in real life Babbage would not necessarily text as Cabbage. It is a dramatic device we call a joke.
CALL me a puritanical old kill-joy but am I the only one who finds the latest Aldi advert, featuring a flatulent family, quite revolting? A couple on a sofa with their dog are singing the praises of Aldi products. The woman suddenly sprays the air freshener. The bloke says if there's a smell it must be the dog. "It was me," says the woman proudly. Now, it may be that some people live like this, cheerfully breaking wind in company and thinking it's hilarious. The rest of us, possibly of a different generation and background, find it offensive. Where's the self-control? Where's the respect? And whatever the advertising whiz-kids at Aldi may think, the subliminal message this advert gives millions of Brits is unlikely to improve sales: Aldi shoppers? Common as muck.
THE Windrush crisis, which ended with some long-term British residents losing their jobs, their driving licences and even their right to NHS treatment, is not a creation of the past few months. It has been brewing ever since the 1950s through Labour, Tory and Coalition governments. It is precisely the sort of constituency issue that long-term MPs occupying Westminster's back benches should have spotted, seized upon and demanded action over. In all those years, how many MPs were aware that some West Indian constituents were uncertain of their status? How many MPs did anything about it?
MONDAY is St George's Day. I will celebrate it in my usual manner by not wearing a silly costume, not singing patriotic songs, not watching street dancers and not flying a flag. Why not? Because I'm English and those are things that foreigners do.