Peter Rhodes on hangovers, instruction books and the folly of shunning expert advice

Are we seeing a revolt against massive instruction books? Almost a year ago, I reported buying a child car seat with an 80-page instruction book. Even something as simple as a toaster comes with many pages of dire warnings. But things may be changing. A Daily Telegraph reader reports buying some gloves. They came with the instruction: “Wear on your hands.”

Royal expert – Gyles Brandreth
Royal expert – Gyles Brandreth

Today we officially leave the season of excess, so this is positively the last word on hangovers. May it be of some comfort to those who have tried but failed to avoid the thumping head of the morning after. Try to see it positively, as explained in the old comment: “I feel sorry for people who don’t drink, because when they get up in the morning, it’s as good as they’ll feel all day.”

The above, like all the best aphorisms, has been attributed to several sources, including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Jack Lemmon and W C Fields. You would not want to get into a session with that lot.

When it comes to choosing contestants, there's a world of difference between a quiz show (Mastermind, Only Connect, etc) which seeks out the cleverest and a game show such as The Wheel (BBC1) which looks for entertainment value. What else could explain the selection of Saturday's uber-confident contestant facing a multiple-choice question on the formal job title of Prince William. He was offered help from Gyles Brandreth, acknowledged expert on royal matters and friend of the late Duke of Edinburgh, but declined Brandreth's help and made a cocksure guess that lost him several thousands pounds. Almost too painful to watch - but great entertainment.

At the last count the NHS Test & Trace programme had cost almost £40 billion and been condemned as “the real failure of the pandemic.” Of nearly 700 million lateral-flow tests sent out, only 14 per cent had been returned with results.

But Whitehall has form for this sort of thing. Each year the Environment Agency brightly reports it has sold nearly a million rod licences in England and Wales. It also acknowledges that almost three million people go fishing. Do the maths.

And now, inspired by a yuletide dispute over Trivial Pursuit at Chateau Rhodes, a suggestion for your next trivia quiz. What's the connection between the choir of the New York Police Department and Aran sweaters? Answer tomorrow.

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