Peter Rhodes on a housing crisis, a Balkan threat and a talking horse

Tory big beast Michael Gove has ended 2022 by suggesting that people would be less likely to object to housing developments if the houses in question were of high-quality and traditional design. Bunkum.

What people object to is not the architectural merit of houses but the fact that they're being built in such vast numbers and in the wrong places. Once you've ripped the Green Belt to shreds, it's gone for ever. It doesn't really matter whether those 2,000 new houses are nasty little boxes or pretty half-timbered semis. What's lost is lost.

And I suspect most people are pretty hacked off with a Government striving to build 300,000 new houses a year at a time when 500,000 new arrivals are entering the UK every year and looking for a roof over their heads. There is no way to get a grip on the housing crisis until the migration crisis is sorted. Now, there's a new year's resolution, Mr Gove.

Trouble is brewing in Kosovo this week. Nothing new in that. In 1876 the great German statesman Otto von Bismarck famously declared: “The Balkans are not worth the healthy bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier.” What applied to Germany back then applies equally to Britain today. The UK has quite enough on its plate supporting Ukraine without getting involved in this Balkan brouhaha.

Best TV programme over the festive period? For me it has to be Detectorists (BBC2). The cleverest of twists in the tail was echoed in the opening minutes but unrecognised by us viewers until the end. A brilliant piece of writing and performing, it will become a TV classic.

I dare say some viewers would have cast their best-viewing vote for the much-promoted animated film, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse (BBC1) in which a lost boy meets a talking mole, a fox that doesn't eat moles and a philosophising carthorse that spouts the sort of feel-good psycho-babble you find on those little homilies sold in garden centres, in the vein of: “You are you and that's what makes you you,” etc.

According to some reports, many viewers were reduced to tears by the film, which makes me worry for the future of our nation. Didn't anyone else find it all a bit American?

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