Shropshire Star

Comment: Peter Rhodes on baby-snatching, a snub for the late Queen and the perils of family trees

Research by the Office for National Statistics says the proportion of working-class actors, musicians and writers has shrunk by half since the 1970s. The result, presumably, is upper-class actors appearing in roles that were formerly working-class. There's still trouble at t'mill but it involves rather more Ruperts, Sebastians and Persephones than in t'old days.

The Queen – left off the list

Why did Russia invade Ukraine? According to some experts this was not so much a land-grab as a people-grab. Russia's birthrate is plummeting and Putin's annexation of Ukraine would have added 40 million people to his “Greater Russia.” Putin was literally after new blood.

Too grisly to believe? Then consider this month's report of Ukrainian officials describing how they falsified health records to save dozens of babies and young children from being seized by the enemy in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine. Russia stands accused of transporting thousands of Ukrainian children but insists they were shipped to Russia only to protect them from the fighting. And who started the fighting? Putin the baby-snatcher.

This was the year that Queen Elizabeth celebrated her Platinum Jubilee, performed with Paddington Bear, fell ill, passed away and was mourned by millions. So where do you think she featured in the BBC's global list of 100 influential and inspiring women for 2022? The answer, of course, is absolutely nowhere.

The BBC list includes a Palestinian campaigner, a Syrian runner, a Yemeni lawyer, an Iranian actress, an Afghani poet and the first transgender volunteer in the Israeli police. I am sure they are all worthy recipients yet if they are united by one thing it is that most people in Britain have never heard of them. The longest-serving monarch in history, on the other hand, a women who represented our nation for 70 matchless years, doesn't get a mention. Believe me, Auntie Beeb, when it's time to buy the TV licence, this is the sort of thing people remember.

'Tis the season to be thinking of families, forbears and absent friends. An old friend tells me he's made great progress with his online family tree, thanks largely to the hard work of a distant relative who is working on the same tree. My friend says the only downside is that, according to this other version of the family history, he died in1961.