Peter Rhodes on young wives, American figures and losing a man from UNCLE
According to one headline, Michael Caine's tips for staying young at 90 include “take a younger wife". What a charmingly old-fashioned term.
I am reminded of the ditty by the Irish poet and song writer Thomas Moore (1779–1852) about a father urging his son to settle down: “It is time you should think, boy, of taking a wife.” / “Why, so it is father - whose wife shall I take?”
*** A late-night BBC markets report, delivered in American fashion, referred to figures in the format: “two hundred forty” and “seven thousand ninety-five.” On this side of the pond we insert “and” giving us the far clearer “two hundred and forty” and “seven thousand and ninety-five.” 'Tis but a small thing but it rankles.
As do those endless reports that convicted people will “appeal their conviction”. They will not. They will appeal against their conviction. Preserve those prepositions, folks, for they make sense. Ignore them and you end up like the radio reporter who informed us, in all seriousness, that peasants demonstrating against land seizures were “demonstrating land seizures”.
From this column, 10 years ago in July 2013, on the subject of HS2: “How long before the bill for transporting people from London to Birmingham a mere 20 minutes earlier than at present passes £100 billion? Will no-one stop this madness?” Two questions, both still with the same answer: Don't know.
The death is announced of Ilya Kuryakin, the Russian agent from The Man From UNCLE who has been hiding in deep cover for the past 55 years as an actor called David McCallum. As a fully paid-up member of the UNCLE (United Network Command for Law and Enforcement ) club, complete with UNCLE identity card and secret codes, I suggest we keep our heads down and await further instructions.
Meanwhile, we must be ever mindful of the threat from our sworn enemies, the "Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity,” better known as Thrush. They are simply itching to get us.
One enduring legacy of the UNCLE phenomenon is that I can never go into a dry cleaner's without looking for the little door at the back that leads to UNCLE headquarters and Mr Waverly's office. You, too?