Peter Rhodes on a TV classic, an email scam and a time for Covid caution

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Yes, he's back
Yes, he's back

Watch out for an email from BT beginning “We've given your bill a make over.” It may be sent to your email address instead of your name and it's likely your bill isn't even due. It looks plausible but it's the latest “phishing” scam designed to steal your personal information. Bin it.

Wonderful to see Yes, Prime Minister back on BBC 4. It may date back 40 years but for crisp dialogue and Westminster inside knowledge, it has never been bettered. I love the occasional flashes of fear and panic. For the civil servants Sir Humphrey and Bernard (Nigel Hawthorne and Derek Fowlds) terror is inspired by the word “change.” For Prime Minister Jim Hacker (Paul Eddington) nothing inspires rabbit-in-the-headlights fear quite like hearing one of his new policies described as “courageous.”

“Too little, too late” is the greatest phrase in politics. It puts those in power under pressure while empowering those who are not in power and don't have the responsibility that goes with power. If Boris “Green Revolution” Johnson had ordered the immediate scrapping of all diesel and petrol vehicles and issued every family with a bicycle made from lentils, people like the Green Party MP Caroline Lucas would still declare: “It's too little, too late. She's the MP who raged against the aviation industry before admitting that she “occasionally” flew to the States to visit family. When challenged on this, Lucas said it was wrong to focus on individual behaviour. It wasn't much of a defence. In fact, it was too little, too late.

When a war nears its end, soldiers behave differently. On the Western Front in 1918, in Germany in 1945 and in Vietnam in the 1960s, no-one wanted to be the last soldier to be killed. Men questioned orders, attacked cautiously or refused to be drafted. So will we see the same careful, self-preserving attitude now that there's an end in sight to Covid-19? Just wash your hands, wear a face mask and keep your distance for a few more weeks and we'll get through this, right? Sadly, I doubt it. This contagion has been driven by party-people who believed they were bullet-proof. At the disease's height and towards its end, the covidiocy will be with us and thousands of elderly and much-loved people alive today will pay with their lives for the selfishness of others.

Meanwhile, the NHS bumbles along in the same old way. A reader tells me he and his wife had their flu jab from their GP in October. This was followed by two phone calls from the surgery, reminding them to have the jab. A few days ago each of them received yet another reminder, this time by post. Enclosed with each letter was a leaflet advising them to go online headed: “Help the NHS save money on letters like this.”

After last week's item on the price of deer meat, a reader points out: “Venison is not only dear but dead dear.”

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