Rhodes on nursery snots, Labour's woes and German squirrels

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

There is a lot of it around. I refer not to Covid-19 but to a sudden splurge of that ancient malady associated with the return to normality and tiny tots joining playgroups. Let's call it NS – the Nursery Snots. NS fills your brain with cotton wool and your nose with unfathomable quantities of unspeakable stuff.

A friend was struck by infant-borne NS (which he dignifies with the name Rhinitis) while painting the lounge. He described how the entire contents of his nasal channels suddenly turned to water and cascaded into the tin of paint, with no apparent effects on coverage or drying time. He may even have invented a new colour. Rhinitis, a subtle new shade from the Farrow & Ball Phlegmatic range.

Moving swiftly on, there really is no point in either the Left or the Right of the Labour Party blaming each other for the Hartlepool by-election disaster. Both claim the ancient right to represent the working class. The snag is that Labour has been taken over by the young, the academics, the anti-Brexits and the street-protest activists. Represent the working class? They don't even like the working class.

Mysteries of grandchild-rearing. Why does a creature which hops around the garden and enchants toddlers come with a name that no toddler can pronounce? See how many complicated mouth movements go into making the word “squirrel.” If it's any consolation, German toddlers have it even harder. Over there, a squirrel is ein Eichhörnchen.

Still in Continental mood, may I apologise to any French readers on behalf of those British newspapers who reported the Jersey fishing incident as though it were a re-run of two world wars? This is based on the folk-belief that in both wars the Brits were the plucky heroes while our allies the French ran away. The truth is pretty much the reverse.

At the beginning of both the First and Second World Wars the French fought like lions while the Brits were withdrawing. On August 22, 1914, the French lost 27,000 men killed in 24 hours. In the 1940 Battle of Dunkirk, 18,000 French lads perished holding back the Germans during the evacuation. We may like to snipe at the French but the truth is we owe them a huge debt of blood and honour. We could start to make amends by actually reading up on the conflicts we pretend to know about. But then opening a book is never as easy as opening your mouth.

Reading the latest health bulletins is like being in a sushi restaurant. If you wait long enough the conveyor belt will bring a delicacy that doesn't look quite as horrible as the others. After years of unpalatable reports urging us to abandon booze, scientists in Massachusetts say daily drinking may reduce the risk of heart attacks. I wish to digest this information. Pause the conveyor belt . . .

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