Shropshire Star

Peter Rhodes on grisly telly, praise for Maggie and praying for your enemies

Welcome back, Rise of Empires: Ottoman (Netflix), in which the ferocious armies of Mehmet the Conqueror and Vlad Tepes, known to his chums as the Impaler, are knocking big chunks off each other.


If you ever wondered exactly how to impale someone, here it is in all its grisly, ghastly detail. Best watched from behind the sofa.

You may have missed this item. The hole in our planet's ozone layer is well on the way to being fixed. Some experts say Margaret Thatcher, a scientist who quickly recognised the danger, deserves much credit. So that's good news on saving the planet and praise for Maggie. I can't understand why it doesn't get more coverage.

The Observer reports glumly that the authorities are hiring private brokers at vast expense to find care home beds for “bed-blocking” NHS patients. It is a mystery.

Finding care homes with spare capacity is hardly rocket science, is it? It's the sort of job any newspaper editor would give to the youngest reporter: “Here's a list of care home numbers, sonny, and here's a telephone. Ring around and see what you can find.”

Is this really beyond the capability of the average NHS trust or local council? Or is wasting money ingrained in the public-sector culture? For years, councils have been recruiting highly-skilled and highly-paid staff and then, the moment an unusual job comes along, bringing in consultants to do it, all at extra expense to the taxpayers. Bizarre.

On the issue of Prince Harry talking about killing Taliban, a reader recalls the “Gotcha!” celebrations after a Royal Navy submarine sank the Argentinian warship General Belgrano during the 1982 Falklands War. There is a difference. “Gotcha!” reflected the mind-set of the Sun newspaper, not the British sailors involved. The headline was an error of judgment by the Sun and was quickly changed for later editions.

On board the British submarine HMS Conqueror, the mood was very different from “Gotcha!”. My 2010 book, For a Shilling a Day, carries a vivid interview with a teenage submariner who recalled how, after the sinking, a service was held on Conqueror. Far from celebrating the killing of their enemies, the sailors prayed for them. Maybe Harry and his friends did the same. If so, he should tell us.