Peter Rhodes on an Irish conundrum, the art of plate-spinning and the language of climate catastrophe
Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.
I SUGGESTED a few days ago that it was ungrammatical to refer to cars being fitted with the safety feature known as "anti-submarine seats." A reader insists it is perfectly correct, asking: "Have you ever heard of a car fitted with such seats being successfully attacked by a submarine?" Fair point.
THE Democratic Unionist Party gathered at Stormont to protest about Whitehall changing the law to legalise abortion in Northern Ireland. This followed the DUP withdrawing support for Boris Johnson's plan for post-Brexit trading arrangements specifically for Ulster. These two seemingly unconnected events underline the guiding principles of Unionist politicians, namely that they want Northern Ireland to be treated exactly the same as the rest of the UK. Except when they don't.
I RECENTLY likened Boris's task in selling Brexit to the old circus act of plate-spinning. If Wikipedia is to be believed, the world record for spinning multiple plates is held by David Spathaky, assisted by Debbie Woolley, who spun 108 plates simultaneously in 1996. The fact that this record has stood for 23 years suggests there's not much competition. Who knows, with enough practice it might even be a relatively easy world record to beat. A típ: start with your cheap plates.
ON a family holiday a few years back, we found a woman collapsed on a footpath in Devon. She had badly sprained her ankle and fallen heavily, and was in shock. I sent her husband to the nearest shop to buy a bag of frozen peas and applied them to her ankle, mentally awarding myself three gold Wolf Cub stars for excellence in first-aiding. The frozen-peas gambit is a tried-and-trusted remedy for a sprain. Or at least it was until a few days ago when Dr Gabe Mirkin who first promoted ice-pack treatment in 1978, said it may actually delay healing. Such is the history of medicine: what's good for you this year is bad for you next year. At the time, the lady in Devon thanked me for my help. Now, it seems, I may have worsened her recovery. I'm expecting the court papers any day. . . .
OUR changing language. The greenhouse effect became global warming which morphed into climate change and is today referred to as the climate emergency. There is obviously a fear that if the language stands still, complacency may take over. This may explain the shock-horror term now being coined by Extinction Rebellion - climate collapse. As the earth grows warmer, the panic-stricken language expands. So what will we run out of first, polar bears or hyperbole?
INCIDENTALLY, the fracas between XR activists and train passengers in London should be remembered when they next threaten a "peaceful" protest. Did we all see the XR man kick the approaching commuter? Gandhi would not approve.