Peter Rhodes on phone scams, unpredictable medicines and a celebration of the absurd

After last week's gripping item on the Lake District's Derwent Pencil Museum, a reader tells me that no visitor to Devon should miss seeing Yelverton paperweight museum. Although he admits he has missed it several times.

Sean Lock – priceless
Sean Lock – priceless

Phone users are being warned of a new breed of ultra-convincing scams. That'll make a difference from the old, unconvincing sort, like the one I had a few days ago. “Hello,” someone announced in a deep Indian accent, “my name is James Frazer.” As if.

People often ask me: “So tell us, Rhodes, what's the secret, at your immense age, of your razor-sharp incisiveness, astonishing powers of deduction and dazzling mental capacity?” To which I reply: “Red wine, dark chocolate and plenty of, er, thingy, you know, that crunchy stuff, it'll come to me in a minute. . .”

In the meantime, my daily dose of the drug amlodipine may be useful. Latest research suggests the drug, commonly prescribed to lower blood pressure, may also keep a form of dementia at bay. I wouldn't be at all surprised.

The moment I started taking amlodipine, not only did my blood pressure improve but I also stopped getting hangovers and my regular migraines vanished. Another blood-pressure drug was famously discovered to restore lost hair. You don't always get what it says on the bottle. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society's coat of arms carries the Latin motto: “Habenda Ratio Valetudinis,”which translates loosely as “We must pay attention to our health.” Another useful Latin motto for medics is “Sugere et videre” or “Suck it and see.”

I was never a great fan of Sean Lock. He always seemed to be on shows I never watched. But after his recent death, Auntie Beeb is showing his 2002 TV comedy series, 15 Storeys High, on iPlayer. First broadcast on Radio 4 and later on the Beeb, it is beautifully observed and one of the funniest shows now available. Lock co-wrote and starred in the series, based on two losers sharing a flat in London.

If you love comedy of the utterly absurd kind, catch the episode when his flatmate Errol (Benedict Wong) gets a job in the local fish market. His first assignment is sexing whitebait. Priceless.

A reader asks why the public menace known as Insulate Britain whose agenda is to block our motorways, make the cops look stupid and generally irritate people, is not known as Insult Britain.

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