Peter Rhodes on embarrassing retirements, missing Aslan and perfect peace in Parliament

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

Knowing Aslan
Knowing Aslan

Beer, Devon.

WE had one day of drenching, torrential rain when the brook in the main street of Beer suddenly boiled red-brown with topsoil washed off the farms inland and brimmed over. On days like this, anyone living in a valley running down to the sea keeps a watchful eye. Door barriers and sandbags are readied.

THIS time, the torrent was over in a couple of hours, the only damage a manhole cover blasted out of its frame by water pressure and lost in the chamber below. Workmen inspected the situation and erected a hoarding to keep the curious or careless away. Small flood, soon over, no-one hurt. I was reminded of the Kent earthquake of 2015 which was alarming for the locals but a source of merriment online. One image that went viral showed a wheelie bin lying on its side and the stirring words: "Never Forget - We Will Rebuild."

MY holiday reading was Shadowlands, Brian Sibley's 1985 account of the doomed love affair between C S Lewis, author of the Narnia Chronicles and his American fan, Joy Davidman. In my youth I somehow managed to miss C S Lewis almost entirely. At the age when wiser, Godlier children were devouring The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and doubtless becoming better people for knowing Aslan, I was heading in another literary direction. They discovered C S Lewis. I discovered Harold Robbins. You enjoy your little trip on the Dawn Treader but I'm off for a bad-ass romp with The Carpetbaggers.

THE most embarrassing retirement speeches are the ones when the retiree is overwhelmed with emotion at his imminent departure and blubs as he thanks his bosses and colleagues - while everyone else in the room is eyeing up the white wine and canapes and wishing he'd get on with it. From what I saw, John Bercow was tearful about stepping down as Speaker of the Commons, but nobody else was.

MEANWHILE - peace, perfect peace. At last, we can switch on the news channels without finding the Bear Pit of Westminster echoing to the ya-booing of the Commons at their commonest and the loudhailer loudmouths in the streets outside. Some MPs seem convinced that, because they love the sound of their own voices, so must everyone else. It doesn't work like that. Now, if only for a few days, how wonderful to be spared the whining of jabby SNPers, the shrill, demented choirs of backbench barrackers and the excruciating self-righteousness of the Lib-Dems who, on this issue, are not liberal, democratic or right.

FINALLY, how courts work. If a court rules against you, it is ill-informed, prejudiced and wrong. If a court rules in your favour, it is wise, well-informed and right and its ruling is, of course, a great triumph for democracy. I suspect next Tuesday's ruling by the Supreme Court on the suspension of Parliament will be all of the above, with half the country pleased and the other half not.

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