Shropshire Star

Peter Rhodes on significant storms, rehabilitating Ratty and a long-term warning of dementia

In novels, movies and plays, nothing ratchets up the drama quite like a spell of wild weather. When a writer uses extreme conditions to reinforce a story, as with the storms in King Lear and Wuthering Heights, it is known as pathetic fallacy.

Photo: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

I was reminded of this literary term in the early hours of Wednesday when Storm Jocelyn thudded into Chateau Rhodes. It rattled our roof tiles, shredded a fence panel and bounced the trampoline around the garden. As nature went mad for a few scary and sleepless hours, news came in on the World Service that The Orange Thing had won the New Hampshire primary and is now well on track to become the next President of the United States. America's general election is on bonfire night, November 5. Batten down the hatches.

Go online and you'll find many unkind references to today's airline pilots being little more than young machine minders, with auto pilots and computers doing all the clever stuff. If you believe this, have a look at some of the footage from across Europe this week when massive airliners danced like leaves in the wind as pilots used all their skills to juggle flaps and rudders, bringing them safely down in the teeth of fearsome storms. Brilliant.

There ought to be a proper name for the art of landing big jets in monstrous winds. The Boeing Waltz? The Airbus Polka?

Good news or bad news? Scientists unveil a blood test that could detect Alzheimer’s 10 to 15 years before symptoms appear. That's good news if a reliable cure for dementia is available. But what if there isn't? Your time-bomb diagnosis of dementia could blight your whole life. Especially if the insurance industry got to hear about it.

In my recent piece on rodent control in Westminster, I may have been a tad unkind to rats. They are actually admirable creatures which have colonised all parts of the world by a clever combination of eating any old rubbish and breeding at every opportunity. These fecund little omnivores may well remind you of another ubiquitous mammal which enjoys sex, travel and binge-eating. Rings a bell?