Peter Rhodes on losing the car keys, guessing the future and the national sport of taking offence

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Speaking to the heart - All Creatures Great and Small
Speaking to the heart - All Creatures Great and Small

A sharp-eared reader points out that one of the main contributors to this week's Radio 4 discussion on the importance of human touch during the pandemic was called Ophelia.

Well, that wasn't so bad, was it? Channel 5's adaptation of All Creatures Great and Small ended its six-episode run this week and has already been commissioned for a second series. Some critics warned that it could never recapture the charm of the original BBC series. But it did well, pulling in more than three million viewers, a five-year record for C5. Two mysteries. Firstly, why is a drama set in Yorkshire and steeped in Yorkshire values sponsored by a Cornish ice-cream company?

Second mystery: why was this series, speaking to the nostalgic, gentle heart of Britain, not snapped up by our national broadcaster? I have rarely seen a show with “Sunday evening, BBC” so plainly stamped all over it. You missed a trick here, Auntie.

Memory corner. I managed to mislay my car keys and spent 20 frantic minutes hunting for them before they magically appeared in a trouser pocket. And then I drove home, playing a CD of 1960s hits and discovered, to my surprise, that I know all the words to Donovan's 1965 hit, Universal Soldier, including the strange and meaningless line about Adolf Hitler. The human memory seems designed to clutter itself with trivia, leaving no room for useful stuff. The Universal Soldier is both 5ft 2ins and 6ft 4ins but Lord knows where my keys are.

"Slavery was hard and so is this.” This jaw-droppingly crass sales slogan was dreamed up by a gym in Luton to launch a workout marking Black History Month, and quickly withdrawn. Ironically, those seven little words have generated far more exercise than the gym could ever have imagined. Loads of social media users immediately began that great and hugely competitive marathon of our time - the rush to take offence. This involves getting up very early in the morning in order to soak up a full day's offence on behalf of yourself and others, and also developing an extremely thin skin and a Twitter trigger-finger. Ready, steady, go – and I can be much more offended than you, much faster.

Future-guessing. Cleaning out an old cupboard this week, I found the 30th anniversary issue of Private Eye, published in October 1991. It includes a review of an interview for Hello! magazine with an American businessman and dealmaker with a glamorous blonde on his arm. He tells the readers: “I always thought I would become famous.” No prizes.

A reader asked to be kept informed of the progress with our new, hot-as-hell electric-powered weed gun, designed to blast paths clear of roots and shoots. The moment I switched it on, one phrase leaped into my mind, and it had nothing to do with gardening: “Ah, Mr Bond, we have been expecting you . . .”

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