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Peter Rhodes on MPs at the door, ancient family memories and hunting the Birmingham Pub Bombers - where's the will?

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Members of the Birmingham Six after their convictions were quashed – John Walker, Paddy Hill, Hugh Callaghan, Chris Mullen MP, Richard McIlkenny, Gerry Hunter and William Power (left to right)

HAVE you noticed a strange thing about MPs describing how they've been "meeting the people" and discussing Brexit? If the MPs are Brexiteers, the people they meet are also Brexiteers and they tell the MP to get on with Brexit, even without a deal. Yet if the MP is a Remainer, the people they meet are invariably Remainers and they beg the MP for a People's Vote. It seems that, whatever their politics, MPs have an astonishing knack of speaking to people who tell them exactly what they want to hear.

THE truth, I suspect, is that in every constituency there are people who, seeing their MP on telly, claiming to have talked to the people, point at the screen and declare: "I never told him any such thing, the liar."

IT struck me, after writing Monday's item about meeting a man who could remember events of 1885, that similar ancient and handed-down memories must occur in many families. What's the oldest memory in your family?

LET me kick it off with the tale of my Yorkshire grandfather who joined the Army in 1914 and was billeted just over the Lancashire border in Colne. After several months he returned to the Dales with the verdict which has echoed down our family for the past century that "Lancashire folk are quite nice, really." The important word here is "really."

THERE are few people who can tell a chief constable to shine his shoes and do his job but Julie Hambleton, whose sister Maxine was killed in the Birmingham Pub Bombings, is one. After the inquest she declared: "We now demand of Dave Thompson, the chief constable of West Midlands Police, to tie his shoe laces, black his shoes and go out and do the job because we’ve heard new evidence that two of the murderers are out there.”

THE IRA attack on Brum is a never-ending saga. My generation of hacks grew up with it, from the unspeakable sights and smells of the shattered pubs to the release, 17 years later of the wrongly-jailed Birmingham Six. I remember sitting across a table at Long Lartin high-security prison, interviewing Hugh Callaghan, one of the Six, in 1990. A small, bespectacled inmate poured the tea from a big metal teapot. "See him?" whispered Callaghan. "He murdered his wife." It was a bizarre and unforgettable moment. Would somebody responsible for blasting 21 innocents to eternity really be quite so shocked at a single domestic homicide? Sure enough, the cops had got the wrong men. There is still time to get the right men and there's no shortage of shoe polish. But is there the will?

BY coincidence, after this week's item about old folk not rushing to buy new things they see in adverts, a friend said he rather admired the red waterproof jacket I was wearing, and could I tell him where I bought it? No problem. It's from the Classic Yacht range at C&A.

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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