Peter Rhodes on a Tory deserter, hot-wiring cars and the end of the line for “head girl”

The new series of the excellent French thriller Lupin is on Netflix, bringing with it a regular movie cliche. Our hero Assane (Omar Sy) needs to steal a car. So he breaks in, removes a small piece of trim from the dashboard and finds two bare-ended cables, obligingly colour-coded. Touch them together and – mon dieu! - the engine starts. If there was ever a time when hot-wiring a vehicle was so quick and easy, hasn't it surely passed into history?

John Who
John Who

The Government is again under pressure to increase the conviction rate for rape. Simple. As I've argued many times, let's have total disclosure of a defendant's criminal record right at the start of the trial. Sex offenders tend to be repeat offenders and juries have a right to know whether the innocent-looking bloke in the dock has a string of sex convictions. The truth, the whole truth.

In politics, timing is everything. Catch what Shakespeare called the tide in the affairs of men and you're swept on to greatness. Miss it and your name's Bercow. The former Commons Speaker John Bercow, better known today as “John Who?” says he quit the Conservative party because it is “reactionary, populist, nationalistic and sometimes even xenophobic” and has joined the Labour Party. How could he have known that the Chesham and Amersham by-election, while bad for the Tories, would produce the worst by-election result ever for the Labour Party?

John Who has seized the wrong day, mounted the wrong horse and grabbed the outgoing tide at the worst possible moment, left gasping like a flounder caught on the mud flats. I bet he thinks that an MP of his towering intellect and experience will be plucked from the backbenches into the Shadow Cabinet in no time. Dream on.

St Paul’s Girls’ School in Hammersmith, one of Britain's leading girls' schools, is to drop the title of head girl and replace it with “head of school.” This is seen by the enlightened pupils as more inclusive, while “head girl” is denounced as “too binary.” Which raises an obvious question. How much longer should it be called something as crushingly binary as “Girls' School?”

Let's not stop there. Is St Paul, bearded patriarch of the early Church, a suitable title figure in these gender-neutral times? What about his famous toleration (“obey your earthly masters”) of slavery? You could make a good case for renaming St Paul’s Girls’ School simply as School. It would confuse the posties but every great leap forward for mankind has its casualties. Sorry, personkind.

There is, as they say, a lot of it about. As the kids went back to nursery, playgroup or school, they brought a little something home with them. I've seen nothing in the national media but I hear tales of parents, and especially grandparents, suffering coughs, sneezes and general snottiness for weeks on end. Any doctors care to comment?

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