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Peter Rhodes on fad diets, marriage at 16 and a spirited endorsement from beyond the grave

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

Spirited - Helena Bonham Carter

THE great chef Pru Leith warns that fad diets, purges and "magic potions" are nonsense. I can believe that. I once worked with somebody (long ago and far away, you understand) who, once a year, embarked on a rigorous cleansing and de-tox diet. It lasted a couple of weeks and at the end of it he was every bit as toxic and unclean as before.

GREAT news from The Other Side. Apparently the dear departed Princess Margaret thoroughly approves of being portrayed by Helena Bonham Carter in the Netflix series, The Crown. The actor says she has consulted the princess in the afterlife and received a spirited endorsement. That's the great thing about The Other Side, as compared with real life. Whether you go to a medium or talk directly to the Almighty, you can generally be assured that the messages coming the other way will be exactly what you want to hear.

IF you've ever been to a "psychic evening," you'll know that if the psychic makes contact with your dead relatives, they will all be "very proud of you." It would have been odd indeed if the shade of Princess Margaret had told Bonham Carter that she was too short, too dark and entirely wrong for the part and that HRH (deceased) demanded Renée Zellweger or nobody.

OVER the years I've interviewed thousands of people living all sorts of lives. But as far as I can recall I've only ever met one couple who married at 16. She'd been the parlour maid in a grand house where he was a footman. One night they eloped from this Downton Abbey existence to get married in Scotland. It may have seemed a doomed venture but I interviewed them when they were joyfully celebrating their Golden Wedding, 50 happy and prosperous years later. Not all teenage marriages are so successful. The Labour MP for Rotherham Sarah Champion is calling for the current legal marriage age of 16 with parental consent to be raised to 18 on the grounds that "child marriage is child abuse."

IN A carefully argued column, Champion barely mentions race or culture but she calls for "parents and faith leaders who sanction child marriage" to be held culpable. She is asking for nothing more than "the right to a full childhood" and who can argue with that? The right to marry at 16 dates back to an age before sex education, contraception and safe termination, when being an unmarried mother was a terrible social stigma. But in modern Britain, is there any justification for marrying kids off before they can even vote?

THE question then arises, at what age are people sufficiently mature to understand the implications of a life-long contract such as marriage and the responsibilities that go with it? What is the best minimum age for matrimony? I'm thinking 45, maybe 50. Then again, there's a lot to be said for 60. Or 70 . . . .

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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