Peter Rhodes on fossils, film sex and why the UK jabs millions while the EU dithers

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Keira Knightley – no more sex scenes?
Keira Knightley – no more sex scenes?

Many reports of the pandemic claim we are in the eye of the storm. As any weather forecaster or migrating albatross will tell you, the eye is the centre of the storm which is dead calm. It's the teeth of the storm you should avoid.

If you haven't pieced it together yet, the reasons that European countries are failing miserably to vaccinate their people while millions of Brits have been jabbed are very simple. It is partly because they are in the EU and we are not. Britain's drug-approval process declared AstraZeneca vaccine safe in a matter of days while the EU's “precautionary principle” process, reflecting the mind-set of an organisation built entirely on red tape, grinds on in the predictable sclerotic way. Add the NHS's excellent track record for mass immunisation to the equation and we have a brilliant post-Brexit triumph for Britain. Assuming the vaccines actually work. . . .

Strange turn of phrase in a column, written by a woman, about Susanna Reid allegedly revealing more than is seemly on GMTV. The writer refers to “the amount of entirely blameless cleavage.” Interesting. If cleavage can be blameless, can it also be blameworthy? If so, how are we to know which is which? I think we should be told.

In similar fleshly vein, at 35 and with two children, Keira Knightley says she won't film any more sex scenes with male directors because it makes her feel “very uncomfortable”. But she would consider such scenes with a female director. She has a point. With the internet awash with porn, is there really any demand for established actors in mainstream movies to be cajoled into sex scenes?

The acclaimed TV series Traces was notable for its understated, almost coy, love interludes. It may be coincidence but Traces was directed by two women, Mary Nighy and Rebecca Gatward. If they can get by without what Keira Knightley calls “all greased up and everybody grunting” scenes, why can't all directors?

She sold sea shells on the seashore. Her name was Mary Anning (1799-1847) and through sheer dedication she became one of Britain's earliest and best amateur fossil hunters, and possibly the inspiration for the old tongue-twister. She set up a fossil shop in her home town of Lyme Regis and was consulted by the greatest scientists of the day. But in Victorian England she was always overshadowed by the men and never got the recognition she deserved. A statue in her honour has been commissioned with £70,000 raised by crowdfunding. In an age when statues are being ripped down, here's a worthy one going up.

But for how long? We live in holier-than-thou times. Who can be sure that Mary Anning will not one day be condemned for failing to denounce the Empire sufficiently or for disturbing ancient sedimentary rock formations without permission? I can foresee a new tongue-twister: “Shove her statue in the shiny sea? Sure.”

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