Peter Rhodes on curious names, tracing the pandemic and an unusual venue for Mr Bieber

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Justin who?
Justin who?

The menace of predictive texting strikes again. A report at the weekend told how police arrived at a crime scene, “armed with semi-detached weapons.” Semi-automatic, I suspect.

I suggested a few days ago that hardly anyone knows where Hertfordshire is. A reader agrees: “It's a bit like trying to pin down Berkshire.”

He is right. Having consulted the map, I can report that it seems the chief purpose of Berkshire is to prevent Oxfordshire slipping into Hampshire.

According to the latest research, fewer than a quarter of people in the UK with Covid symptoms ask for a test and only half say they have been fully self-isolating after symptoms develop. Frankly, I'm surprised it's that many.

In a perfect world, at the first hint of a cough or a sudden loss of taste, we would all get a test to make sure it's Covid and then inform the authorities of our recent contacts and self-isolate for 10 days.

But we're not perfect. We all have our own fears and loyalties. The test procedure invites us to voluntarily confirm our worst terrors, imprison ourself and our family in our homes and grass up our friends. It may make good epidemiological sense but it's hardly human nature, is it?

Here we go again. In an attempt to grab a slice of the yoof market, Auntie Beeb has been playing music by Justin Bieber and other pop stars on staid old Radio 3.

This is the musical equivalent of introducing skate-board tracks at garden centres. The idea is that you attract lots of new, bright young skateboarding customers to your herbaceous displays.

What actually happens is that all your old beige customers go somewhere else for their dahlias. We are creatures of habit and this BBC yoof grab is utterly doomed, serving only to irritate and alienate R3 traditionalists.

I speak as one who has never knowingly found Radio 3 on the dial and definitely can't recognise Justin Bieber. (In tomorrow's column don't miss my 100 hip-hop-garage-acid-skiffle-ska-rap favourites.)

Nature Journal reports that researchers in the States believe protein injections could produce a cure for baldness. I wish them every success.

However, I have been in journalism 52 years and cannot remember a time when a cure for baldness, a cure for cancer and painless dentistry were not just around the corner. Don't chuck away the toupee yet.

The rich are not like us. They have different sorts of names. A single day in the Daily Telegraph births column welcomes the arrival of babies bearing the monikers Apollo, Indigo, Winter, Caspian, Vita, Atticus and Wigley.

While we rejoice in the variety and ingenuity of first names, have these parents considered that some day they, or their nanny, may have to shout at their offspring in the street, shop or supermarket?

“Winter! Put them bleedin' crisps dahn.”

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