Peter Rhodes on remembering '66, painting in blue and packing the fans into Wembley

After a bit of a flash-bang-wallop weekend, a question for the forecasters. Which is worse, “localised flooding” or “localised flooding issues”?

As the Euros final approaches, one headline declared: “Elderly England fans recall 1966.” Hang on. You do not have to be particularly old to remember England under Bobby Moore defeating West Germany. I was 15, on a school trip to Avignon and watched the match through the window of a TV shop. It feels like yesterday. Especially as these days I self-identify as 37.

Protesters in Canada tore down statues of the Queen and Queen Victoria, in fury at the alleged maltreatment revealed in church-run residential schools for indigenous children. How easy it is to blame everything on the distant imperial power. But Canada has been a self-governing dominion since 1867, with its own laws and parliament. The indigenous schools were a home-grown Canadian scandal, perpetrated by Canadian officials and churchgoers on native Canadians. Don't blame us.

Still on the horrors of colonialism, what are we to make of the new statue of Princess Diana at Kensington Palace, with HRH's hand resting on the shoulder of a black child? How long before it is denounced for “white saviour” overtones?

The Blue Boy, Sir Thomas Gainsborough's masterpiece, is to return on loan to the National Gallery next January, exactly 100 years after it was sold and exported to America. Covid rules permitting, I bet it draws millions of viewers to the gallery. It will also revive an old debate over whether this glorious portrait was the result of artistic squabbling. The story goes that Gainsborough prepared his palette in response to his portrait-painting rival Sir Joshua Reynolds' lofty command that blue, being a cold colour, should be used only “to support or set off” warmer colours such as yellow or red. Gainsborough broke Reynolds' rule in style and the result is an icon. And as with so many British icons, it lives in the States.

Covid-over-the-topness of the week. Columnist Bryony Gordon, considering Richard Branson's forthcoming space flight and the latest Covid regulations, declares: “It's easier to go into space than it is to go to Majorca.” Only if you can't wait a few days.

I suggested some months ago that no UK Government would tolerate a massive loss in the duty paid on petrol and diesel as electric vehicles took over. Sure enough, a reader reports that relatives in Australia have been warned to expect a tax on electric cars to make up the shortfall. As he says, it's like slapping a tax on people who stop paying tobacco duty when they give up smoking.

Meanwhile, how wise is it to allow tens of thousands of fans into Wembley? And the answer is, no-one knows. It could be days before any spike in infections is discovered. A laboratory rat says: “It's a diabolical liberty. They're stealing our jobs.”

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