Shropshire Star

Peter Rhodes on chess, bridge and an exciting night with Rebel the police dog

The great chess player Bobby Fischer famously declared: “Chess is war over the board.” But sometimes, as we see in Ukraine, war is not chess. It's bridge.

War on a board

Meanwhile, as Putin looks for a way to end this bloody war, can we organise some global pan-media ban on the use of words such as humbled, humiliate, humiliated, and humiliation? It really does not help.

Shamed by the pathetically low rate of conviction for burglary, all 43 police forces in England and Wales have pledged to visit the scene of every house burglary. This marks a radical change from the present policy of a) issuing you with a crime number, b) alerting Victim Support and c) telling you there's a lot of it about.

Do not assume, however, that a visit will guarantee an arrest. Back in the 1980s, when scene-of-crime visits were commoner than they are now, a burglar kicked in our back door at 3am and was making what police call an untidy search of our house. I loaded my air pistol and trembled from room to room in the dark while my wife dialled 999. The burglar fled and Mrs Rhodes suggested I should not be brandishing a loaded weapon in the house. I foolishly discharged it into the kitchen pedal bin, blowing a hole in the base from which gravy oozed on to the floor.

At this point a Pc, accompanied by Police Dog Rebel and a dog handler arrived on the scene. Rebel assumed he had arrived in Bisto-heaven. Instead of fearlessly pursuing the miscreant into the night, he set about drinking as much gravy as possible and would not be budged. It was not exactly a triumph for fast-response policing.

In the confusion and fear of the incident, I assumed our burglar was a 7ft body builder with a machete. Turned out he was a scrawny 16-year-old dimwit who had been kicking in doors all over the neighbourhood that night. Our burglary became a mere TIC, a crime taken into consideration in the court hearing for another crime.

And to be honest it could have been sorted just as well with a phone call the next morning as with a visit. Although Rebel seemed to enjoy it all.