Peter Rhodes on a shrinking Army, lessons from lockdown and why, as always, it's the rich wot gets the pleasure

Like a balloon slowly deflating, the British Army shrinks before our eyes. The latest cuts will see the number of active soldiers (or“bayonets,” as the generals like to call them) reduced from about 76,000 to 72,500.

Stanley Johnson can still go to Greece to maintain his home out there
Stanley Johnson can still go to Greece to maintain his home out there

Out go tank regiments. In come hi-tech experts equipped with remote-control observation and cyber-nasties. Stand down, The Hussars. Quick march, The Drones.

A BBC survey suggests the nation is more or less evenly divided on the question of whether the pandemic has divided or united the nation. I dare say the “Stanley Johnson loophole,” named after the Prime Minister's father, will tilt the vote heavily towards “Divided.

In broad terms, foreign travel for holidays is illegal. But, as always, there are exemptions for such things as business trips, medical emergencies or charitable work. And then there's the “Stanley Johnson clause,” named by Labour after his trek to Greece last year.

This allows people who own properties overseas to travel back and forth for reasons of sale, purchase, maintenance and other deliciously woolly reasons.

So ordinary working folk will face massive fines if they dare take a week in Benidorm but wealthy people can lounge around in the Med, sipping chilled beer on the balcony of their own little villa. It is hard to think of a more divisive exemption but is anybody really surprised that, in the great British tradition, it's the rich wot gets the pleasure and the poor wot gets the blame?

In any case, how many British owners of overseas properties do not have local agents and cleaners who are perfectly capable of looking after the place during lockdown? Or does no-one ask?

The BBC is running a survey to find out what people will miss or not miss when lockdown ends. Working from home, walking and shopping locally look likely to remain popular after restrictions are lifted.

But we seem to have fallen out of love with both flying and commuting. I am sceptical about the latter.

Assuming things ever get back to normal I bet the usual suspects will be heading straight for the office water cooler, desperate to catch up on a year's supply of gossip.

Whatever they may claim, thousands of workers simply love office life.

Interestingly, 50 per cent of those questioned supported more help for small businesses.

We have a strange relationship with firms. When they are small, we cherish them like tender little crocus bulbs. But if they succeed and become big businesses we want to hack them back like knotweed.

One thing I will miss post-lockdown is weekly deliveries from the supermarkets and the ritual of scouring the menus to compose the next order.

There is a sort of poetry in the lists of stuff on offer.

My lockdown ditty comes with apologies to John Masefield's epic poem, Cargoes: Breaded chicken teddies with a side of dough balls / Egg-fried rice balls and cheesy dirty fries, / Frozen trays of dumplings, meatballs, mushrooms, / Mozzarella, casserole and chicken thighs.

Most Read

Most Read

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News