Peter Rhodes on big girl’s blouses, a princely row and a very curious object

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

Cross Prince Andrew

Beer, Devon.

CUT this out and keep it. According to the Sunday Times, weather researchers at University College London reckon we may be heading for the coldest winter in 30 years. And the winner of the Grand National will be . . . .

ACCORDING to a Palace source, a furious row between the Duke of York and an aide involved a work-related issue and “the Duke got very cross that what he wanted wasn’t possible.” So what might that be? A time machine?

THE D-Day spirit lives on down here in Devon. From hundreds of miles away, like landing craft storming the beaches of Normandy, the boys of the old brigade converge on the south coast. At the helm of every towing vehicle on the motorway is a chap with hair as white as his caravan, hunched over the steering wheel, nose almost touching the windscreen (why do old people drive like that?). Anyway, as the caravans arrived, so did the rain. It’s traditional.

WE found an excellent B&B in the middle of Beer. Free parking, perfect fried bread and a proper bathroom basin with proper taps, not those damn silly mixers you bang your head on. Memo to hoteliers everywhere: First, get the little things right.

IN an antique shop down here is a large object marked “not for sale.” So why bring it to the shop if you don’t want to sell it? Realistically, how many people would ever want to buy such a thing? And on the million-to-one offchance of somebody wanting to buy it, wouldn’t the wisest thing be to sell it, grab the money and be thankful? It is a euphonium case.

MEANWHILE, researchers at Oxford have found an unexpected link between eating chicken and four types of cancer. One theory is that the risk may be increased by certain methods of preparing the chicken, including frying. That figures. There is a sort of gastronomic sod’s law which dictates that the better the food tastes, the worse it is for you.

AMONG all his other troubles, Boris Johnson has been denounced for sexist language in calling Jeremy Corbyn a “big girl’s blouse.” This apparently causes deep offence in the sisterhood and reinforces the appalling global patriarchal-hegemony thingy that we are all supposed to worry so much about. But hold on one moment. “Big girl’s blouse” was a catchphrase of Hylda Baker, in character as Nellie Pledge in the ITV sitcom Nearest and Dearest. It was a woman’s term, used to ridicule weak and ineffectual men. Ban this phrase, ladies, and you rob other women of a powerful put-down. What’s more, “big girl’s blouse” is essentially a Northern expression. How dare the Londoncentric feminist elite tinker with the time-hallowed metaphors of Barnsley, Leeds and all points north? Those who oppose “big girl’s blouse” are guilty of sexism and blatant regionalism. Isn’t this fun, chuck?

WHICH reminds me. In the fruit shop the other day the lady in charge addressed me as “my beautiful.” That’s a first.

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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