Shropshire Star

Peter Rhodes on jolly companions, a missing emperor and a candidate for the next PM

Camilla has appointed six “companions” in place of traditional ladies-in-waiting. They look like a hearty, jolly bunch and I can't be the only one reminded of a particular Shakespeare play.

Who lost Sponsian?

These companions are the Queen's closest friends (bad luck, Friend Number Seven?). They will officially “support” Camilla at royal functions. Unofficially I bet they have a grand old time with lots of bubbly, chauffeur-driven outings, and full access to the Palace dressing-up box. The Merry Wives of Windsor.

And there's no reason why these companions should not remain merry for many years. If they can just resist the temptation to ask people: “Now, where do you come from . . ?”

One of my younger readers, a stripling of 78 summers, spotted my use of the word “upbraid,” meaning to tell off or lecture, and pointed out that it appears in that old music-hall monologue The Green Eye of the Little Yellow God. I was aware of this; indeed, plied with enough ale I have been known to recite it at parties, usually just before the guests go home.

It's been a few weeks since we last appointed a new prime minister and already there are dark mutterings against Rishi Sunak, chiefly over his alleged support for wind turbines at the bottom of our gardens. If Sunak is ditched, there is one Tory MP, a kingmaker (and queenmaker) who seems to enjoy boundless support and always looks positive and smiling in his important task of delivering premiers. Step forward, Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee. If not, why not?

A re-examination of Roman coins found in modern-day Romania in 1713 suggests they were minted by Sponsian, a hitherto-unknown Roman emperor. Unknown? How can this be? How can generations of archeologists have overlooked an entire chapter of Roman history? In short, who lost Sponsian? It sounds like a missing scene from Monty Python's Life of Brian. “Centurion, where's the Emperor?” “Er, the lads sort of mislaid him, sir.”

Regarding the latest dire warnings about a national shortage of turkeys, can anybody remember a December when we didn't have dire warnings about a national shortage of turkeys?