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Peter Rhodes on a golden age of music, the latest bill for HS2 and an actor's pride in Bilston

By Liam Keen | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes

HS2 concept design

THE Italian fashion house Gucci is under fire for launching a £690 jumper with a "black-face" design. Gucci says it regards the incident as "a powerful learning moment."

YOU may never know when this little phrase could come in handy. It's not what it looks like, darling. It's a powerful learning moment . . . .

AS the cast of Four Weddings and a Funeral re-assembles for next month's Comic Relief, the irony is that the actor playing the poshest of this very posh set came from humble beginnings in the Black Country. James Fleet who plays the aristocratic, castle-owning Tom, was born in 1952 at No 6 Nelson Avenue, Bilston, and attended Ettingshall Junior School until he was 10. Then his father, Jim, who suffered from muscular dystrophy, died aged just 49. I interviewed James some years ago. He had nothing but fond memories of Bilston and playing football with his mates. After his father's death the family moved to Scotland but Fleet remained "immensely proud" to be a Black Countryman. On a sentimental journey 20 years ago he and his mother drove back to Nelson Avenue. "I asked her if she wanted to stop and knock on the door. She said no, but as we drove off, I felt that she had wanted to.” As poignant a moment as anything in Four Weddings and a Funeral.

HS2, the high-speed railway that no-one wants and we can't afford, was originally budgeted at £32.7 billion in 2010, quickly rising to £56 billion. Today, figures of £100 billion or more are bandied about. A reader who claims to know a mole within HS2 says the figure often mentioned inside the organisation is £132 billion. A few days ago it was revealed that the cost of acquiring land and properties for this project is now five times the original budget of £1.1 billion. So hands up, all of you who seriously think you will ever travel on HS2. That's just Lord Adonis, then.

A SURVEY among Brits aged 18 to 25 reveals that even this millennial generation reckons the best pop music was made before the year 2000. If you doubt that, catch one of the BBC Top of the Pops compilations where a typical line-up includes: The Dave Clark Five, Supremes, Stones, Righteous Brothers, Sonny & Cher, Stevie Wonder, Bee Gees, Procol Harum, Julie Driscoll, Kinks, Rod Stewart and T. Rex. The quantity and quality of great music was simply spellbinding. "Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven," as somebody put it. The Trogs, possibly. . .

RESEARCHERS at Newcastle University say if the standard portion of fish and chips is reduced from 1,600 calories to just 600 calories, it becomes a healthy snack and yet customers are still satisfied. So how many chips are chucked away every year by customers who buy more than they really want? Reducing the portions is good news for everybody. Except seagulls.

Liam Keen

By Liam Keen
Reporter - @LiamKeen_Star

Trainee reporter at the Express & Star, primarily covering Wolverhampton. Got a story? Get in touch on 01902 319688.

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