Peter Rhodes on eggs, poppies and a call to put slavery on the curriculum

Terms for our time. Reporting on Ukraine's formidable defensive barrier of the mighty Dnieper, BBC veteran reporter Jeremy Bowen calls it “a very serious river”.

John Prescott – a new job?
John Prescott – a new job?

The pacifist Peace Pledge Union reports a good year for sales of its white poppies as an alternative to the “militaristic” red poppy. Showing off your anti-army credentials is all very well but I've yet to see the pacifist solution to a maniac on your doorstep who sends his armoured columns over your borders and lobs cruise missiles into your cities. Apart, of course, from immediate and unconditional surrender. White poppies lead ultimately to white flags.

It looks as though plans for a new Royal Yacht will be shelved under the Government's spending cuts. Embarrassing for me to comment on it because, having consulted the archives, I see I was against a new yacht in 2017 but in favour of it in 2021. A sea change.

King Charles says schools should teach pupils about slavery in the same way that they educate them about the Holocaust. Which poses a question; when did our schools take slavery off the syllabus?

In my teens our history lessons included the evils of the “Triangular Trade”/ I recall the text-book map showing the intercontinental triangle of slaves shipped from Africa to the West Indies to grow sugar, sugar shipped from the West Indies to Europe and manufactured goods taken from Europe to Africa to purchase more slaves. We were shown 18th century diagrams of slave ships with hundreds of Africans manacled and crammed in the holds. Once seen, those grisly images are remembered for a lifetime.

I can understand why some post-1960s educationalists might have thought it unhelpful, in an increasingly multiracial society, to rake up the shameful past. Why teach the kids about slavery when you can do something safer, like ancient Egypt or the Tudors? So was there a conscious decision to erase the race-memory of slavery? And if so, how do we put it right?

Still on King Charles, his close encounter with a yob in York underlines the need for a new palace appointment. The Royal Egg-Catcher Poursuivant would secrete himself in crowds, watch out for people armed with eggs and deal with them appropriately. What's John Prescott doing these days?

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