Peter Rhodes on parachuting, baby-boomers and the case for drinking lager before drafting laws
Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.
I am surprised in these pandemic times that my little tale of having a fall attracted so much response. A reader offers this useful definition. If you fall over and people laugh, you're young. If you fall over and people panic, you're old.
I suggested a couple of days ago that the UK media is obsessed by the United States, to the exclusion of Europe. You may not be aware, for example, that this week saw part of a city taken over by Chechen gangs wielding assault rifles and hunting down rival gangsters in broad daylight. The city was Dijon which, being in France, has barely been mentioned.
A reader joins a popular chorus of rage among the under-40s, blaming all the world's ills from climate change to pandemics, on the greedy post-war generation – the so-called baby boomers. Yes, we were a fortunate generation. But that is because our parents and their parents, having been through hell in two world wars, decided that we would have better lives. And so we had free NHS, free school milk, free orange juice, free university education and so on. But keep it in perspective, eh?
When my reader declares: “Baby boomers could buy a house on a single apprentice's wage,” it's pure myth. There was no El Dorado. For most young babyboomers, years of grotty bed-sits or living with your parents were the norm, until you had saved enough for a deposit. I started as an apprentice on £500 a year at a time when a terraced house cost £6,000. Most building societies, on being begged for a mortgage by babyboomers like me, politely showed us the door. With hindsight, we were lucky. But I don't recall feeling especially lucky at the time.
Some of you, reading reports of the yob who urinated near a monument to a murdered police officer, may recall my suggestion on lager-based law writing. The defendant in this case, now jailed, said he had drunk 16 pints before the incident. Some years ago, having witnessed hundreds of cases as a court reporter, I chose 14 pints as a useful threshold. As so much crime was committed by people who claimed to have consumed 14 pints of lager, didn't it make sense for committees of MPs, police, academics and judges to drink 14 pints each, to drive out the woolly liberalism before drafting any new laws? This would really get inside the brains of criminals. I suspect we would get more uninhibited sentences on the lines of “cut the blighter's goolies off” but, well, so what?
To return to my fall, I didn't mention how impressed Mrs Rhodes was when I went into a roll to break the impact. “Was that your parachute training?” she asked. Given that my parachute training 30 years ago consisted of 20 minutes jumping off gym benches before plummeting 2,000 feet and breaking my leg, I thought not.
I did learn a very good lesson from my one experience of parachuting. It is this: Do not jump out of perfectly good aircraft.