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Peter Rhodes on sticky summer, partying gulls and how the Covid-19 jab may become compulsory by stealth

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Party animal

Republicanism alert. I couldn't help noticing that in a couple of reports on the cross-Channel migrants dilemma, the BBC referred to “the British Navy.” Royal, if you don't mind.

Why is it, as I mused a few days ago, that we pay more attention to old-fashioned letters in envelopes than to the digital equivalent in the form of emails and texts? It's probably down to visibility. Electronic messages are overtaken by newer ones and vanish from your screen but paper stuff is placed in a prominent place where it glares at you and cannot be ignored. What the digital world really needs is the virtual mantelpiece.

Oh, hot, sticky and humid day. If England were a car, you'd assume the air-conditioning was broken.

Given the reluctance of so many folk to accept a Covid-19 vaccine, as described in yesterday's column, could any government contemplate making the jab compulsory? Or would it even need to? Much of our behaviour these days is dictated not by politicians but by insurance underwriters. Could we reach the stage where, officially, the coronavirus jab is optional but you won't be able to get travel insurance or private health cover without having it? And that's before the civil and criminal lawyers even start looking at the issues. As track and tracing gets better and we can see who's infecting whom, how long before someone gets charged with manslaughter or landed with a big bill for compensation? And if you think your household insurance will cover such risks, I can only admire your optimism.

Me? I will probably accept the jab after loitering at the back of the queue for long enough to see if those at the front are developing interesting side-effects from the jab such as fever, headaches or growing a third ear.

I had a really nasty dose of the flu in 1973, the sort that rages like toothache in every joint from hips to finger tips. But having endured that episode I have never had the flu again, nor even a cold or a serious winter sniffle. I believe (admittedly without a shred of scientific knowledge) that the flu of '73 gave me some immunity. So I have never accepted a winter flu jab since, on the grounds that if your immune system ain't broke, don't fix it. I will probably make an exception for the Covid-19 jab – if it ever appears – not because the disease is likely to kill me but because of the terrible effects it is inflicting on survivors, from crippling weakness to dementia and blindness. Flu is bad but this contagion is a rampaging beast.

If it's any consolation in these spacing-denial, beach-cramming, litter-strewing, pandemic times, we are not the only foul and disgusting species. My old boat on its mooring is suddenly covered in guano and feathers and I found a smelly dead fish among the debris. The gulls have been partying.

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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