Peter Rhodes on old bangers, Valentine bubbly and Britain's bomb-proof aristocracy

A survey of police forces in England and Wales reveals that many are using police cars more than 20 years old. The most ancient vehicle, owned by West Yorkshire Constabulary, is 36 years old. This is neither the time nor place to discuss a Yorkshireman's attitude to spending money. But if a car is starting, stopping, running well and is regularly serviced, why not keep on using it? Compared with some of the old Land Rovers rattling around the Dales, a 1986 cop car is a mere beginner.

Not another shortage?
Not another shortage?

Here we go again. There is no shortage of alleged shortages. After the non-existent Xmas shortage of pigs in blankets and the apocryphal dearth of turkeys (which turned into a glut), a dire new warning comes from the Champagne fields of France. One family-owned Champagne house warns that they are already keeping bottles in reserve to ensure they don't run out of the stuff for Valentine's Day next month.

No bubbly to share with one's beloved? However will we cope? Probably as we do at every other joyous celebration: Prosecco.

Meanwhile, still in Gallic mood, the Daily Telegraph makes a passing reference to Paris by its romantic name, the City of Love. It's a charming old soubriquet but just lately Paris has been more like the City of Tear Gas.

I promised to keep you posted, in this season of shooting parties, on the fate of the pure white pheasant that wandered into our garden before Christmas. No news.

Firms that build nuclear fallout shelters report brisk business in Japan where tensions are rising thanks to missile tests by North Korea and sabre-rattling by China over Taiwan. I am reminded of a friend who, back in the nuclear-dread days of the 1980s, got a job seeking out likely customers for shelters. He started by contacting his local aristocracy in their grand mansions, only to discover that many of them had been protected for years, with blast-proof doors and air filters in ye ancient wine cellars.

He came to the conclusion that if Armageddon were unleashed, when the Brits eventually emerged from cover, the surviving population of the UK would be awfully posh, and very, very drunk.

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