Peter Rhodes on shopping frenzies, a prison nightmare and Britain's yuletide Brexit message
Guaranteed to break the ice.
I SMILED at the viewer's question on the YouTube footage showing police drivers in London deliberately knocking moped robbers off their machines: "Can we all do this or is it only the cops?"
A FEW days ago I suggested that an unqualified woman had managed to work as a psychiatrist in the NHS for 22 years because psychiatry is a bluffable sort of profession. A reader appears to take the same view. For 22 years he was wrongly diagnosed with a form of epilepsy before another psychiatrist realised his condition was something entirely different. "And for all I know," he says, "that shrink could have been Father Christmas."
THE disgusting conditions facing the British academic Matthew Hedges in United Arab Emirates jails are the stuff of nightmares. This affair has been settled by "gracious clemency" which means the UAE rulers can pretend Hedges was a spy and we can pretend we admire them. For future reference, "major export market" is not the same as "friends."
TIME is a funny thing in politics. In the time between Theresa May calling last year's General Election and polling day, she slid down the ratings while Jeremy Corbyn, until then regarded as a joke, soared. So what will happen in the time slot between the EU signing off the Brexit deal and Mrs May presenting it to the Commons in mid-December? If you are looking to politicians and pundits for guidance, think again. At every stage in this Brexit process, we have been told that Brexit faces obstacle after obstacle and conspiracy piled upon conspiracy. Every week over the past two years seemed to begin with some deadly, Brexit-dooming crisis, yet each challenge melted away. The hyped-up story we were given was the version favoured by "experts" who, for the sake of an exciting dispatch, seek the extremists on either side, ignoring the mass in the middle. I would not be surprised if Mrs May's deal, after a glitch or two, slips through Parliament, if only because MPs are at last waking up to the true mood of the public which can be summed up in five words: Just get on with it.
IT is a truth universally acknowledged at this time of year that a fool and his money are soon partying. The eagerness to panic-buy any tinselly tat in the hope of buying a better Xmas knows no bounds. Seizing the mood of the moment, the homeware shop Anthropologie is offering "decorative branches" of birch sticks at £40 a bundle. As the inevitable mockery began, a spokesman for the company wailed defensively: "For the £40 you actually get over 40 branches." What a bargain, eh?
IN the same festive spirit, I am delighted to offer the Rhodes Christingle Half-Brick for a mere £50 (tinsel extra). Guaranteed to break the ice at parties.
I'VE just seen the latest Coen Brothers' Western, the Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Brutal, surprising, beguiling and unmissable.