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Peter Rhodes on paying tribute at the wrong place, football's grim dirge and why a soft Brexit is like 100 dead rabbits

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

You can't polish a dirge.

Right place, wrong Hardy

AFTER her Cabinet triumph, Theresa May will be spending more time with EU negotiator Michel Barnier. Good luck with that (Spell-check for "Barnier" suggests "barmier").

IN the meantime, the bean-counters and policy-wonks are arguing whether the Cabinet's "soft" Brexit option, dismissed by Boris Johnson as a t**d that cannot be polished, is worth having. As I suggested a few weeks ago, our lords and masters focus too much on the economics. For most Leave voters, this was always a political issue. What matters is that we will no longer be part of the EU, that we can stop dignifying its preposterous parliament by electing make-believe MEPs, that we are not ordered around by unelected officials and that our local councils no longer have to fly the EU's silly flag or erect "built with EU funding" signs when, in order to get £1 out of Brussels we have to pay £2 in. The message we sent to the Government in the 2016 Referendum was simple: "Get us out. Get the best deal you can, but get us out." We seem to be on track. More polish, please.

AND even if the Brexit we get is not exactly the Brexit we want, it is not the end of the road. I am reminded of the old farming joke: What do you call 100 dead rabbits? A start.

MY recent bit on Abbotsbury Swannery in Dorset reminds a reader of a misty morning years ago when he decided not to visit the swannery but to see the nearby Hardy Monument instead. And why not? This is the heart of Thomas Hardy's legendary Wessex, the place where an immortal story teller span his magical yarns of Tess and Jude and the Madding Crowd. My reader made his way to the mighty Hardy Monument, whispered a few respectful words to his favourite author and went on his way. It was 20 years later that he discovered the Hardy Monument has nothing to do with that Thomas Hardy. It was erected in honour of another Thomas Hardy, namely Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy, hero of Trafalgar and of "Kiss me, Hardy" fame. Your own tales of mistaken monuments are welcome.

IN order to forestall the pedants, I must mention the theory that the dying Lord Nelson did not say "Kiss me, Hardy" but "Kismet, Hardy," using the Arabic word for fate or destiny. I should also mention the counter-theory that "Kismet, Hardy" is a Victorian invention intended to quell any suspicion that Nelson was anything other than dead butch.

AN enduring mystery of football, especially to those of us born without the soccer gene, is how two sharp cookies like Frank Skinner and David Baddiel came to be associated with such a meaningless, tuneless dirge as Three Lions (Football’s Coming Home). If you are having difficulty with the melody, that's because it can only be properly sung if you have half your brain removed and your knuckles drag on the ground. You can't polish a dirge.

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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