Peter Rhodes on cut-class accents, pandemic dreams and a particularly Scilly tier

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Trevor Howard – henky-penky?
Trevor Howard – henky-penky?

I have this tier thing sorted. From tomorrow you can have 4,000 spectators at a football match in the Scilly Isles. (Population of the Scilly Isles: 2,224).

The Museum of London is asking folk to share the dreams they experience during the pandemic. A reader confides to me her latest dream which involves illness, fear and domestic shaming. Her cousin arrives unexpectedly with his new girlfriend and the house is a tip, with peeling wallpaper, dirty washing and pillows and duvets scattered everywhere. The girlfriend is a chic and stylish interior designer who raises a haughty eyebrow at such mess. And all the dreamer can think to say is: “I'm sorry, I've just had my flu jab.” In the best tradition of guilt-dreams, the dreamer is of course, naked.

Own up. How many of us watched the rare screening of Brief Encounter on BBC4? Like Winnie the Pooh and A Christmas Carol, it draws us back, if only for those glorious cut-glass English accents.

Brief Encounter was made in the days when such accents ruled the movies and A was pronounced as E, with the result that the King lived in Buckinghem Pellis and coal was delivered in sex. When Celia Johnson first sees Trevor Howard in the film, she describes a nice-looking men, wearing a mec and a het. Later on, having taken off his mec and het, the nice men takes her into a flet for some henky-penky.

Brief Encounter was more than a movie. Made in 1945, it was part of a national movement to drag Britain back from the free-sex, live-before-you-die mood of the war years and to re-establish traditional morality. In the end, respectability, dignity and self-control triumphs over illicit love and enimal pession.

A radio interviewer asked how teachers might react to the public-sector wage freeze which would effectively mean a drop in salary. Good point. No-one is better placed than a teacher to witness the avalanche of money problems facing families, to see how many private-sector mums and dads have been made redundant and the despair they are enduring. Meanwhile, teachers, and most other public-sector workers got their 2020 wage rise as normal, their pensions are still intact, as is job security. Teaching unions may fume but I bet most teachers will take the hit of a pay freeze and count their blessings.

My list of 26 cars over the past 50 years is eclipsed by a reader who, over the same period, has owned or leased 37. In the 1970s he bought an old Morris 1000 for £35, drove it to Venice for a holiday and on his return sold the car. For £35.

As anyone who drove anything in the 1970s will confirm, great moments like that were vastly outnumbered by heart-breaking, wallet-busting car catastrophes, usually involving rust or big ends. There were occasional brilliant cars but as the feminists used to put it, you had to kiss a lot of ugly frogs to find a handsome prince.

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