Peter Rhodes on counting Jedi, enforced letter-writing and what happens if we stop believing in CCTV?

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

Jedi rarity
Jedi rarity

The Capture (BBC1) was a whodunnit based on the theory that CCTV footage can be so expertly manipulated that it can show people doing things they never did in places they never visited. It was fiction but we live in an age where the line between fact and fiction is increasingly blurred. So how long before a jury in a real-life court case refuses to convict a villain caught on CCTV because a couple of dim jurors watched The Capture and, well, there’s gotta be sumfink in it, innit?

I must get these specs changed. Glancing at a headline, I was convinced it referred to banning smacking on public transport. On closer inspection, it was “snacking.” For the sake of clarity, let’s ban both.

I don’t entirely understand how, in this age of civil liberties and human rights, anybody can be forced to write anything he or she doesn’t want to. But as the day draws near when Boris Johnson, under orders from Parliament, may have to write his letter to the EU requesting an extension for yet more pointless waffle about Brexit, the word from Brussels is that the request might be refused. So in that case, could our Parliament urge the European Parliament to write a jolly stern letter to the EU Commission, ordering it to grant an extension? If not, why not?

How many trans people are living in Britain? No-one knows. The Government Equalities Office “tentatively estimates” there are approximately 200,000-500,000 but a report by MPs suggested 650,000. So the next national census will ask people whether they consider their gender now to be the same as when they were registered at birth. And that will produce the right answer? As you may recall, in the 2001 Census nearly 400,000 people stated their religion as Jedi Knight – and you don’t see one of those every day.

The Guardian, in its role of saviour of the universe, has published a report naming the 20 businesses responsible for a third of the world’s carbon emissions. The chief offenders are ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, Saudi Aramco and the National Iranian Oil Company. Unsurprisingly, the list of shame does not include Mrs Miggins’s Retirement Home for Startled Hedgehogs nor the Glastonbury Lentil Weaving Co-Operative. As you’d expect, big oil companies equal large amounts of carbon. But they do not operate in a vacuum. They make money – and carbon – because we buy their products.

On the day the Guardian unveiled its list of shame, Boris Johnson’s father the eco-campaigner Stanley, said it was okay for him to fly because he was usually going somewhere to make a speech about climate change. The French have a great little term for this sort of thing: “Qui s’excuse s’accuse.” He who excuses himself accuses himself.

And where do you think the Guardian might feature on a list of companies chopping down trees to make newsprint? We all have our guilty little secrets.

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