Peter Rhodes on an imaginary admiral, insurance rip-offs and the slaughter of the hedgehogs

Excellent idea from Ireland. If they can hold their general election on a Saturday, why can't we?


The alleged fear about hedgehogs not being properly protected after Brexit ignores the obvious fact that these harmless little charmers have been vanishing from the countryside at a terrifying rate for at least the past 20 years. You can't blame the EU - or Brexit - for everything.

In 2003 war was declared on hedgehogs on the Scottish island of Benbecula because they were threatening seabird populations by eating eggs. I was dispatched to the Outer Hebrides to report on the hedgehog-rescue mission. Night after night before the killing began, volunteers picked up hedgehogs and prepared them for transport and release on the UK mainland. Several hundred were relocated but many others were slaughtered. Historians may wonder why, as the mainland hogs were vanishing, mankind set about destroying thriving colonies on the islands because somebody in authority deemed seabirds to be more important than hedgehogs.

The only justification I ever heard was that the seabirds were native species while the hedgehogs, introduced to the Hebrides in the 1970, were alien. It is strange how we enforce immigration rules against animals that no decent person would dream of imposing on humans.

There are two ways of becoming an admiral in the Royal Navy. The first is to work hard and pass the promotion exams. The other way is to be a prince with a special birthday. Prince Andrew was due to become an admiral this month on reaching his 60th but it's been put on hold for obvious reasons. Not that it really matters because it's simply a make-believe promotion with no authority and no ship to play with, merely a smart new uniform with lots of gold braid. In other words it's just something special from the dressing-up box. Prince Andrew would be an admiral on his 60th birthday in much the way that I was a US Sheriff on my eighth birthday.

Thanks for your angry emails about car-insurance renewal. The record so far is a reader who says with no claims, no changes in his policy and no explanation, his premium shot up by 41 per cent. Any advance?

Thanks, too, for your messages on how you detest the steady replacement of “lady” by “woman.” But the one that really needles some readers, when they are in a mixed group, is to be addressed as “guys”. As in the restaurant with: “Hey, guys, can I get you a table?”

Being a mere bloke, it is hard to advise how women/ladies/girls/trans-women or whatever can best respond to “guys”. I can only suggest that with as much dignity as possible, you point out to the waiter: “Actually, I'm not a guy. I am a doll.” Then again, maybe not.

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