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Peter Rhodes on a nightmare second referendum, films to cherish and it's cold enough to freeze off what..?

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

When a forecast is actually a scenario.

Inspired by Oz?

A LEAGUE table of movies is hailed as "the most influential films of all time." Which is scary, given that number three is Psycho and you would not want to meet anybody who'd been influenced by that ("Yeah, I saw the film then got a big knife and bought this motel with en-suite showers..."). Look behind the headlines and this list of classic films has actually been compiled by a computer algorithm. It has selected movies which have most influenced other movies.

ONE critic, for example, reckoned the Tin Man, Cowardly Lion and Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz were the inspiration for the golden robot, the lion-faced pilot and the worried little computer on wheels in Star Wars.

I'M not sure what other movies may have been inspired by number seven in the list, Citizen Kane, but in my opinion it is the most stupendously boring and overrated film of all time.

AFTER the Bank of England governor Mark Carney's no-deal warnings, the Bank was quick to point out that Mr Carney's visions were "scenarios, not forecasts." What a brilliant get-out. How long before the Met Office starts using this useful phrase to hedge its bets? So what is the difference between a scenario and a forecast? If it comes true it was definitely a forecast. If it doesn't come true it was just a scenario.

MEANWHILE, here's a scenario to keep you awake at night. Just supposing a second Brexit referendum is held and Remain wins it by the narrow margin of a mere 15,000 votes. And then we discover that 20,000 Remain votes had been cast in Gibraltar, just as they were in 2016. In other words, the United Kingdom of 60 million people would be forced to remain in the EU on the wishes of 20,000 people living on an Iberian rock more than 1,000 miles away. If you think the first referendum was unfair, imagine what a second one might deliver.

IN the new series Britain by Boat (C5), the presenter and former BBC newsreader Michael Buerk explained that during winter on old warships, the brass cannon-ball rack known as a "monkey" would shrink and the cannon balls would fall off, hence the term "cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey." It's a great old tale, much repeated by sailors. Sadly, as a clever old thing like Buerk ought to know, it's nonsense. There is not a shred of historical evidence for the yarn. The brilliant shipwrights who created vessels such as HMS Victory would surely have had the nous to make their cannon-ball racks just a bit bigger.

A POP-UP advert offers me a savings scheme paying "up to" 11 per cent. I am surprised this weasely little term is legal. How much more honest it would be if "up to" were outlawed and replaced with the much more honest "down from."

Peter Rhodes

By Peter Rhodes

Award-winning columnist and blogger. Keeping an eye on the tribulations and trivia of a fast-changing world

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