Shropshire Star

Peter Rhodes on a boozy tale, an undesirable royal and the headline that haunted Michael Parkinson

“Emu Man Dies.” The obituary headline that the late Michael Parkinson dreaded, as recalled by Richard Littlejohn.

Angela Rayner – boasting of booze

Scientific modelling suggests that Bonnie Prince Charlie was not such a good looker, after all. In fact he was a bit of a chinless wonder with blotchy skin. On the other hand, he was a magnificent horseman, as his doomed Highlanders observed in 1746 when he realised he was on the losing side and swiftly exited the battlefield at Culloden. Galloping Prince Charlie.

Talking of undesirable royals, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is expected to visit the UK in the autumn. This gives Rishi Sunak a few weeks to rehearse that most challenging of formal diplomatic greetings: shaking the hand while holding one’s nose.

Let us hope Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner was exaggerating at the Edinburgh Fringe when she boasted of all-night drinking binges and her fondness for a vodka-based cocktail called Venom which she mixes in a bucket. Because if she isn’t joking, what she was describing would easily fit the NHS’s definition of problem drinking. Rayner may think that admitting to binges makes her appear cool, unstuffy and a woman of the people. I suspect the people may be more concerned about Ms Venom one day being in Downing Street.

And if Rayner is after the youth vote, she should consider the latest research showing that Britain’s young people aged 16 to 25 are the generation most likely to be teetotal. Labour hopes to attract younger voters but in today’s new puritanism, booze is no longer cool.

A mother in Chesterfield was horrified when her 10-year-old son was almost choked in a “tap game” which has gone viral on Facebook. Worried sick that some other child might die, the mother says she called the police on a Wednesday but received no response until the following Sunday. I mention this incident only because some police are calling for industrial action for more pay. A strike? How would we know the difference?

I wonder if the Police Federation has a mental image of supportive Brits standing on their doorsteps and banging saucepans to express their support for the boys in blue. Those days have gone.