Peter Rhodes on grandparenting, the folly of youth and the message from Brum – let us spray

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Tommy Mundon – enlightening
Tommy Mundon – enlightening

One message of Christmastide is that salvation can come in the most unexpected ways. While all the world focuses on the pandemic race against time, with mass vaccinations struggling to keep pace with the new strain of the Covid-19 virus, there's been hardly any coverage of a promising, development in Brum.

Scientists at Birmingham University have developed a nasal spray, using tried and safe ingredients, that traps the virus in the nasal passage, giving protection against infection for up to 48 hours. It's not intended to replace masks or social distancing but it offers another layer of protection, especially in high-risk areas, including classrooms. Any nasal spray, with all those echoes of the old Sinex adverts, will never be as glamorous, dramatic or as photogenic as an injection but this is a new, home-grown weapon in the armoury and it may be the answer to millions of prayers. Let us spray . . .

As a first-time grandfather, I waxed a little too warmly on the subject for one reader. He referred to a pithy little poem by the late, great Black Country comedian Tommy Mundon :

“I have seen the lights of Paris,

I have seen the lights of Rome,

But my favourite lights are on the car

That takes the grandkids home.”

Oh, the folly of youth. I shudder to think how young and silly is the “well placed source” who explained to Fleet Street why Osama Bin Laden's former spokesman is now free to walk Britain's streets.

Adel Abdel Bary has been flown back to the UK from an American prison on health grounds. Because he poses no perceived risk and is reckoned to have no terrorist contact, he will not be tagged or subject to a curfew. What makes him so harmless? The source explains: “Bary is very much a busted flush. He is pretty old and pretty obese.” Old? He is actually 60. Obese? What if his New Year's resolution, like so many other folk's, is to lose some weight? No terrorist contacts? Does he not know how to use a phone? This release reeks of decision-making by people who can barely remember the pre-9/11 terror attacks. Let us hope we do not come to regret it.

The issue of what the young mean by “old” always reminds me of my father who saw the note his new, 30-something cancer consultant had written to his GP. It began by describing the patient as “a very pleasant elderly gentleman.” At the time, my father was 63. He always said the word “elderly,” especially when used by a man so much younger, seemed to imply: “Well, he's had a good innings . . .”

“Okay, then. How about knighthoods all round, a conducted tour of Downing Street, nice new Jags for all the lads and a million quid in used fivers? Plus the usual non-disclosure clause?” Top-level negotiations continue between the Prime Minister and the UK fishing industry.

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