Shropshire Star

Peter Rhodes on pylons, bum ache and reflections on an assassination in Dallas

On this night 60 years ago I came home from Scouts to find my mother sobbing in the kitchen at the news that President Kennedy was dead.

President John F Kennedy

Even at my tender age I knew that Kennedy, the tanned, handsome war hero and family man, was more like a film star than a politician. He stood for youth, vitality, hope and courage. Later we would hear about Marilyn and the Mob and the other dark shadows in Kennedy's so-call Camelot. But in November 1963 the assassination in Dallas seemed like the end of everything that was good in public life. And amid all the speculation that followed, one truth echoes through history: everyone of a certain age remembers where they were and how they heard the news that JFK was gone.

I daresay millions of us still cling to our favourite conspiracy theory. Mine is the one about the clumsy Secret Service officer who accidentally fired his weapon and hit President Kennedy. It follows a golden rule of life, that while conspiracies are rare, being difficult to plot and cover up, cock-ups happen all the time.

Trivia corner. Which two great thinkers and writers died on the same day as President Kennedy? Aldous Huxley and C S Lewis. I daresay someone, somewhere in some fevered little corner of the internet, has a conspiracy theory all about that.

Ridley Scott, director of Napoleon (2hrs 38 mins) says if a movie is longer than three hours, you get the "bum ache factor," after around two hours. The real Napoleon would understand, having lost the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 thanks partly to a pain in the rear. He could cope with the British army but was laid low by a sudden attack of haemorrhoids.

Under a plan to make us feel more positive about the spoiling of rural England, people living close to new pylons might receive “up to” £1,000 a year off their energy bills. Two points. Firstly “up to” actually means “less than.” Secondly, some years ago I counted the pylons that could be seen from our back door. I made it 19. So any chance of this refund being back-dated?