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Peter Rhodes on troubled holidays, a pair of fandangos and an artistic hit from the 1980s

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Whispering Bob Ross

The Australians have a joke. How do you know when an English flight has landed? Because after they switch off the engines, you can still hear the whining.

Over the past few weeks the Brits have been excelling in our national sports of whining, whingeing, moaning and blame-shifting. We like to believe we have an absolute entitlement to a trouble-free ten days in Greece without being inconvenienced by anything as silly as the worst pandemic in 102 years.

So here is some sincere and heartfelt advice for people planning an overseas package trip during the next half-term break. Don't. The pandemic is too uncertain, the cancellation clauses in your holiday insurance are too vague and nobody knows what the quarantine arrangements will be a few weeks from now, especially if you're returning on an England-bound flight that has to divert to Scotland or Wales. And if you do decide on one last autumnal package tour, at least have the grace to take it on the chin if it all goes wrong rather than moaning to ITV about how you've had to pay £1,000 extra, you're in quarantine for a fortnight and it's everybody else's fault, never your own.

If the TV footage from Greece, Portugal and elsewhere showed Brits having a riotously exciting time, we might understand the irresistible lure of the beach holiday. But the ones who aren't glumly boozing are seen standing, equally glumly, on paddle boards, arguably the most pointless water sport ever invented. You stand. You paddle. You fall in. What's that all about?

I remarked last week on having, entirely by accident, inserted two Siegfrieds in the same column. Continuing the theme of not very exciting coincidences, a reader points out that two iconic songs of the 20th century contained the word “Fandango.” Off you go.

One of the unexpected hits of BBC4's Culture in Quarantine series is The Joy of Painting, a 1980s series of art classes hosted by an American artist, Bob Ross. Using big, decorator-style paintbrushes, Ross creates glorious, intricate landscapes. He slaps on a dollop of titanium white and, behold, a frozen lake appears. I suspect it is better to watch than to imitate. When Ross smilingly whispers in his Southern drawl: “The tree is already in the brush; you just gotta let it out,” he is overlooking the fact that we are not all touched with artistic genius and for most viewers, big brushes mean big blobs. Who can guess how this charismatic artist's style might have developed? Sadly, Bob Ross died in 1995, aged just 52. And his trademark soft voice? He served 20 years in the US military, much of it spent shouting orders. When he quit he resolved never to raise his voice again.

The Fandango songs? Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen, 1975) and A Whiter Shade of Pale (Procol Harum, 1967). As always, save it for when the pub quizzes resume.

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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