Peter Rhodes on hosepipes, heatwaves and conversations that end with 'off!'

What should you do if a neighbour defies a hosepipe ban? The answer, according to Neighbourhood Watch chief John Hayward-Cripps, is not to report them but to “have a conversation.” He recommends: “What is needed is a certain amount of common sense and treating people as you would like to be treated yourself if you had made a mistake..”

Well, good luck with that. I see two drawbacks. The first is that “having a conversation” with a hose abuser is likely to be one of those conversations that ends with “off!”

The other problem is that, having approached your neighbour, if anyone else then reports him to the hose-police, he will assume that you are the snitch. In which case you will have one of those conversations that involves not only “off!” but also a baseball bat. No-one ever avoided a black eye by coming between a hooligan and his hose.

While everyone compares this heatvwave to the great drought if 1976, few mention the scorching summer of 1975. At a party in Coventry at midnight, a few of us decided to drive to the Welsh resort of Borth. By 8am we were swimming in the shallows. By noon it was too hot to do anything and so we headed into the mountains and floated in a heart-stoppingly cold reservoir.

Today, I find myself harrumphing at such foolhardiness. But back then we were all 47 years younger than we are now and our brains worked in a different way. Or sometimes not at all.

If you haven't yet seen Benediction, Terence Davies' study of the war poet Siegfried Sassoon, do. I've never seen a movie that so perfectly captures the national agony of the First World War or the harrowing drawing-down of blinds that followed it. It is a masterpiece of timing and and a reminder that in the best of movies, the truly important points are sometimes made when no-one is speaking.

I suppose we Covid virgins, long resigned to being struck at some stage, expected it to come with a fever and loss of scent or taste. I woke with nothing more than a dry throat and a vague headache/ But you can't argue with two bold strips on the tester kit. I am Covid positive. So far, so good.

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