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Peter Rhodes on a froggy film star, a forgotten tragedy of the Great War and our reaction to climate change - carry on cruising

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Not a cat in hell's chance

Gwyneth - croaking?

IT is good manners not to point out that the experts warning us this week that Armageddon will arrive unless we limit global warming to 1.5 degs C are the same experts who, ten years ago, told us that the sane limit was 2 degs C. But whatever the true figure, there is not a cat in hell's chance of humankind changing its habits in the radical ways suggested.

CONSIDER our obsession with holidays. Nothing pumps carbon into the atmosphere quite like an airliner. Nothing despoils the oceans quite like supertanker-size luxury liners. So, in view of climate change, are we cutting back a bit on both? Dream on. The world now has more than 300 super-liners. Twenty million passengers go on a cruise every year. Airline travel is booming. At any given moment, about 16,000 airliners are in the skies. An airline boss recently reported the growth in demand for new airliners as "healthy." By which he means, of course, very unhealthy. And while we all nod piously and pretend to cut back on eating meat, it's full steam ahead for a third runway at Heathrow.

I WROTE in June about "vocal fry," the US fad for women to adopt a croak-speak, where the end of every sentence trails off into something resembling a frog's voice. It's been some time since I heard the star who spoke with such crystal-clarity in the 1998 movie, Shakespeare in Love. I caught a radio interview with her this week and have to report, with much sadness, that Gwyneth Paltrow has become a croaker.

A READER regrets that next month's special Armistice commemoration will be dominated by images of British soldiers in the battledress and steel helmet of the Western Front. While it's true that most of our casualties were in France and Flanders, the 1914-18 conflict was a world war and some of our lads fought it in shorts, shirts and tropical helmets. Tens of thousands of our soldiers perished in the Mesopotamia Campaign, including the Siege of Kut which was arguably the worst British defeat of the war. It was a savage campaign with unspeakable cruelty shown to 13,000 captured British and Indian troops by their Ottoman captors. My reader is 91. Her husband's grandfather and two uncles died in Mesopotamia.. They have no known grave. The Commonwealth war memorial erected in Basra, in modern-day Iraq, was destroyed in the 2003 Gulf War. On Armistice Day, November 11 this year the names of the great Western Front battles - Mons, Ypres, Somme and Arras - will be heard time and again. Spare a thought for the Tommies who fought and died at Kut.

A SPECIAL "Battle's Over" beacon to erect in your garden to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, has been unveiled. I was intrigued by the maker's claim about the gas-fired beacon: "Afterwards, it can be stored and used for future events." What, like the end of the Third World War?

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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