Peter Rhodes on keeping hens, offending an archbishop and the great smell – of glass?

Read Monday's column from Peter Rhodes.

Revolutionary – Derek Nimmo in All Gas and Gaiters
Revolutionary – Derek Nimmo in All Gas and Gaiters

If the name fits. A Daily Mail feature explains how chicken coops, built by a company called Omlet, have made thousands of families self-sufficient in eggs. Writer: Jane Fryer.

The Omlet revolution has introduced owners to the joy of hens. “They're very, very rewarding,” says a spokeswoman for the British Hen Welfare Trust. From personal experience I can confirm that half-a-dozen chickens in the garden have their moments. But for sheer entertainment value, curiosity, companionship and bigger eggs, try ducks. We had ducks and hens, and the ducks were always the stars.

Wales is the latest part of the UK to punish holiday-home owners by drastically hiking council tax on second homes. If it makes more homes available for local people at reasonable prices, so be it. But why is it always the outsiders, the foreigners, the buyers who are portrayed as the villains? Every sale requires not only a buyer but also a seller. The holiday-home crisis is the result of locals eagerly selling their properties to the highest bidder. A sales tax on sellers might level the field.

The Archbishop of Canterbury complains that clergy are badly represented in TV dramas “as rogues or idiots.” He is apparently not impressed with Dawn French as The Vicar of Dibley. I'm not a huge Dibley fan but, in a generally godless and unworshipping age, French's character, The Rev Geraldine Granger, seems a kindly and pragmatic person and the Church is generally portrayed positively.

If the Archbishop takes offence at Dibley, he must pray that the Beeb doesn't re-run the 1960s series, All Gas and Gaiters. Screened at a time when the CofE was still powerful and influential, the comedy, starring Derek Nimmo and Robertson Hare, was revolutionary. A blend of satire and farce, it caused controversy by portraying senior clergy as hopeless, worldly incompetents. Heaven forbid.

Footnote. Of the 33 episodes of All Gas and Gaiters, only 11 survive, thanks to Auntie Beeb's policy of wiping tapes. The Establishment had its revenge, after all.

A Russian defence company has diversified into cosmetics with an aftershave claimed to evoke the masculine smell of a Checkmate fighter jet. According to the sales pitch, it combines the whiff of leather, metals and glass. Ah, yes, the great smell of glass (have I been missing something?)

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