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Peter Rhodes on dodgy omens, a car-insurance wrangle and why Big Ben should not chime for Brexit

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

Michael Sheen and David Tennant in Good Omens. Photographer: Steve Schofield

Rebecca Long Bailey appears to be front-runner to become leader of the Labour Party. I am sure lots of party members will be cheering. Conservative Party members.

No, I didn't send a donation towards the £500,000 appeal for Big Ben to ring us out of the EU on January 31. The referendum vote was too close and the divisions are still too deep and too bitter to start rubbing salt in the Remainers' wounds. A national bong-fest in Westminster would be inappropriate.

However, I see nothing wrong with a brief firework celebration. If every happy, and probably tipsy, Brexiter launched a single skyrocket at 11pm on Exit Friday, it would be a sight bright enough to cheer the Leavers but too short to offend the Remainers. It would also provide that quintessentially British phenomenon that goes with every national celebration - a sudden rush to A&E.

Watching Good Omens (BBC2), I remarked that David Tennant, as a laid-back demon, seemed to be imitating Bill Nighy while Michael Sheen, as a camp angel, was a dead ringer for Christopher Biggins. The next day the Daily Telegraph TV critic, Anita Singh, made exactly the same point. This must be every producer's nightmare. You pay the earth for two global megastars; you end up with that aged lothario from Love, Actually and Britain's best-loved pantomime dame. Oh, yes you do.

Strange, isn't it, that the BBC totally ignored Jeremy Corbyn's speech on the most crucial foreign-affairs crisis for ages? Addressing a rally in London, the Labour leader declared: “There's no excuse for shooting down an airliner, there's no excuse for a targeted assassination by one state against another.” Maybe the BBC hadn't the staff to cover the event. Maybe they thought Corbyn and Labour have suffered enough. Or maybe something darker is going on and he has become, for news purposes, a non-person. After Corbyn's dismal performance in last week's Prime Minister's Questions, the Guardian column John Crace declared: “Since the election . . . the Labour leader has been a lost cause. Lost even to himself.”

Why are so many well-established companies eager to lend their good name to motor insurance? Tesco, Saga, Sainsbury, the Post Office and others have their insurance offshoots. A reader tells me her Marks & Spencer car premium has just shot up by 20 per cent. Her vehicle and driving record are just the same as last year and she feels she is being ripped off by M&S. The loyalty she felt to a store chain that millions regard as a national treasure has taken a knock. What price reputational damage?

Anyway, she phoned M&S to complain. They wouldn't budge on the renewal fee but offered a £50 M&S voucher. The question is obvious. If they can give her a £50 voucher, why can't they knock £50 off the premium?

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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