Peter Rhodes on cricket teas, pub wisdom and pennywise pensioners

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Pavlova – quote of the year
Pavlova – quote of the year

What a wonderful, selfless and generous nation we are. A new poll asked 1,000 Brits why they would choose to have a Covid-19 vaccine. The answers will warm your heart.

The single biggest response was: “To protect other people from catching Covid-19,” followed by “because vaccines have been successful against other diseases” and “to reduce the risk of catching it.” And not one of the 1,000 said: “I'd have the jab so that I can get back down the boozer again and get bladdered seven nights a week.”

The continuing mystery of the pandemic which has been with us for nine months is the inability to count bodies at weekends. The Saturday and Sunday death rates are routinely low, giving the impression the contagion is in retreat. And then, come Monday or Tuesday, the grim tally rises as the weekend under-count is corrected. I forget how many billions of pounds we are chucking at this crisis. You'd think they'd at least get the sums right 24/7.

Meanwhile, how on earth have we managed for the past few months without the wisdom of the regulars? You know the sort. Every pub has its coterie of half-a-dozen blokes who know absolutely everything. They know more about politics than 650 MPs and more about football than all the Premiership managers combined. They even know more about driving than Lewis Hamilton and will point out how he took that last bend all wrong (“Too wide, son. Too wide”). One moment all this wisdom, everything you need to know to put the world to rights, was available every night, free of charge, to the nation. Suddenly, the flow stopped. Yet somehow, we have survived.

More pandemic memoirs. A reader who works in a supermarket tells me he and fellow staff were at first amazed how many vulnerable customers aged 70-plus were making daily trips to the store. Instead of one weekly, Covid-beating big shop, they were turning up each morning, and mixing with fellow shoppers, to buy just £10 worth of items. The penny dropped. These customers have loyalty cards which means every time they spend £10 in the store they qualify for a free newspaper. His conclusion: “It just shows what a tight-fisted lot some pensioners are.” As a hack, I naturally applaud their desire to get a newspaper. These oldies are clearly eager for the latest information. Dying for it, even.

On November 10 I took a gentle pop at cricket, a sport which always stops for tea and is “the game invented by your mum.” A few days ago, purely by chance I'm sure, Sussex Cricket League announced that, following a vote, clubs would no longer be obliged to provide teas (although a second vote may be held) The dismay was palpable. Horsted Keynes Cricket Club tweeted: “In fact, we are working on a new pavlova recipe.” I predict when the newspapers compile their Great Quotes of 2020, that will be one of them.

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