Rhodes on petrol, pipework and Carrie Johnson – asset or liability?

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Carrie Johnson – she's the story
Carrie Johnson – she's the story

As the fuel crisis drags on, I can only advise you not to buy petrol by the litre, the gallon or even the tankful, but by the value. Forty pounds' worth of petrol costs exactly the same today as it did ten years ago.

The world's best-known festival is a place for simple fun and a break from the worries of the world. And then this blares over the speakers. “The biosphere is not just changing, it is destabilising, it is breaking down.” Should the next Glastonbury carry a Greta alert? “Warning: contents may cause irritation, depression, anxiety and drowsiness.”

Good to see someone rebelling against the silliness of our time. Buy almost anything online and you'll be asked to write a review about it. This paean of praise comes from a Screwfix customer reviewing a length of plastic drainpipe: “For a length of pipe, this product is astounding, Round all the way through, smoothly finished, you can look through it. Water flows beautifully and if you put it to your ear, you can hear the sea.” Excellent.

In politics there is no greater asset than a loyal and low-key spouse. Think of Mary Wilson, Norma Major, Denis Thatcher and Philip May. But from redecorating Downing Street to Partygate, via alleged meddling in policies, the tree house and the row over finding a highly-paid Whitehall job (a story which is not going to go away), how will history remember Carrie Johnson? When the spouse becomes the story, are they an asset or a liability?

According to the saying, if it walks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck. On that simple yardstick what are we to make of the Prince of Wales accepting a suitcase containing a million euros in cash from a former Qatari prime minister? Clarence House says three huge cash donations were passed “immediately” to the prince's charities and “all the correct processes were followed”. If that is true, then the “correct processes” need sorting out because the average loyal subject will look at this affair and think it stinks.

Clarence House says? It is one of several buildings in London with the power of speech.

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