Shropshire Star

Peter Rhodes on giving advice, ordering breakfast and witnessing a police officer's greeting

Offering people advice about whether to take a new job, start a family or consider any other life-changing decisions could be immoral according to Dr Farbod Akhlaghi, a moral philosopher at Christ’s College, Cambridge. He says everyone has a right to “self authorship,” to make decisions for themselves. Spot the problem?

Last updated
National treasure – Grayson Perry

It is that, by offering advice on whether we should offer advice, Dr Akhlaghi is, er, offering advice.

Strange incident. In the petrol station where five us us are queuing for the till, a police officer enters excitedly and demands: “Oi, plonker. Is that your grey van?” The owner nods. “Well, you've left the engine running, you plonker,” says the officer, adding for good measure: “Jesus Christ!”

Now, call me an old sentimentalist but don't we remember a time when the British bobby, whether investigating a parking offence or a mass murder, would address the suspect as “Sir,” on the grounds that he is a public servant addressing a member of the public? Maybe “plonker” has found its way into police-college courses or maybe this was someone who enjoys dressing up as a copper and being offensive. Either way, George Dixon would not be amused. Evening, all.

Grayson Perry's TV foray into this blessed realm (C4) shows the artist and national treasure examining what it means to be English. He could start by looking at the curious, shape-shifting nature of our language. How is it that when you go into a cafe determined to ask for: “The healthy veggie option with vegan cottage cheese, pumpkin pancakes and cinnamon quinoa breakfast bowl,” it always comes out as “full English, please.”

A huge building site near us has been hidden behind a freshly-painted white fence, with the usual, and predictable, finger marks. I am reminded of the old adage that you can tell a man there are a billion billion stars in the universe and he will believe you without question. But tell him some paint is wet and . . .

More grumpy badgers, more scowling owls, more hoppy hares, more ruddy beavers. Am I the only one who thinks we've had quite enough of Winterwatch, Springwatch and Autumnwatch (BBC2). Time for a rest, Auntie?