Rhodes on Roman treasure, living with Covid and what is our progressive society progressing towards?

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Alice Roberts – emotional
Alice Roberts – emotional

Word of warning if you're watching Don't Look Up (Netflix). Do not switch off when the credits begin or you will miss some of the action. About 22,000 years of it.

You can understand why the Attorney General, Suella Braverman (no, me neither) questioned the not-guilty verdicts in the trial of the Colston Four. Equally, you can see why those supporters who punched the air with joy at the verdict want it to stand unchallenged.

For what we saw at Bristol Crown Court was a political trial, a test of strength between the two great tribes of England. The younger, left-leaning tribe could be called Progressives while the older, right-leaning tribe would be happy to be known as Traditionalists. Broadly speaking, this nation is divided about 50:50 between the two. And that's why jury trials of Progressives, like the Colston case, pose a special problem for the Traditionalists. It's all about maths. In order to get a conviction, the 12-member jury needs to agree by at least a 10:2 majority.

But statistically a jury chosen at random is likely to contain enough Progressives to frustrate a conviction in any trial with a political aspect. The Colston verdict was a victory for Progressive thought. The unanswered and rather troubling question it raises is, what are we progressing towards?

The TV archaeologist and national treasure, Alice Roberts, admits she got “emotional” on first seeing the newly-discovered Roman mosaic floor buried under a field in Rutland. Whenever something as stunning as this is uncovered, the obvious question is, what else is waiting to be found in the well-trodden and much-occupied soil of England?

A couple of weeks ago I met an elderly lady who was born and raised near Chichester in Sussex. As a child she and her friends played on a local meadow. And then one day the men with shovels arrived. In time they uncovered stupendous remains. To this day she is astonished – and a little emotional - that, hidden a few feet below her childhood play meadow, was Fishbourne Roman Palace, the biggest Roman residence north of the Alps.

President Biden's advisers and Boris Johnson's scientists are urging a “new normal” policy for both the United States and the UK of co-existing with Covid. And has anyone asked the Covid virus how it feels about that?

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