Shropshire Star

Peter Rhodes on a crooked pub, a massive jackpot and finding homes for colonels and corporals

The Crooked House, the Black Country pub destroyed by fire and wrecking balls last summer, must be rebuilt, by order of the local council.

No spirit levels allowed

The order, revealed this week, was the only fair and proper outcome. Assuming it can be enforced (and don't hold your breath), it would not only restore a local landmark but act as a terrible warning to anyone tempted to trash a building.

But it poses a dilemma for council officials. As a rule, modern buildings are designed to be perfectly horizontal and vertical. How could they achieve the authentic crooked appearance? I can only suggest that nobody with a spirit level is allowed anywhere near the site.

The Crooked House re-birth works two ways. When the pub vanished last August, thousands of Black Country folk went into collective mourning, lamenting the loss of an iconic and much-loved pub. If it's going to be rebuilt there's surely some sort of duty on the locals to buy enough (trigger alert for cultural stereotyping) beer, pies and scratchings to keep it going.

The British Army has always been class-conscious, divided as it is into that classic roll-call: “Officers and their ladies, sergeants and their wives and soldiers and their women.” Those attitudes extend to accommodation, where, on a typical regimental estate, the Colonel has a grand pad, his senior officers have large homes and the lower ranks get smaller properties.

And now comes a revolution. Without much consultation the so-called Modernised Accommodation Offer proposes allocating houses purely on the size of families. The plan - now thankfully “paused” - struck at the heart of the old rank-based entitlement. About time, too? You may think so, and yet many valuable officers hate the idea of change and have threatened to resign. If service families prefer to be accommodated close to soldiers of equal status, why should pen-pushers in Whitehall mix them all up? The army, with all its customs, is here to defend us, not to be used as an exercise in social engineering.

The strangest thing about Richard and Debbie Nuttall winning £61 million on EuroMillions is the fact that we know all about it. If this were my win, I'd have stayed resolutely and unshakably anonymous - and I bet you would, too.