Peter Rhodes on the growth of religion, the rise of the headband and prescriptions with side-effects
Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.
ACCORDING to one of the weekend glossies, the latest fashion sensation is the once-humble headband, tarted up, shoved upmarket and on sale from £18 to £240. Which makes me wonder, is this fashion sense at work or is it constriction of the blood vessels to the brain? Maybe if you wear your headband tight enough, £240 seems like a bargain. And you may see unicorns.
I WAS born and raised in religion. From my earliest days in Sunday school I was told, as Good Friday approached, that Jesus died for our sins. Those five words, "He died for our sins" made no sense when I was five, 10, 15 or 20 but I assumed one day, when I was as old as the old people in the chapel, that all would be revealed and I would understand. Well, it hasn't happened yet. And the more those words are repeated, the more they sound like nonsense. What sins have you or I committed that require anybody's death? (Incidentally, the Catholic response is that, by even asking this question you are guilty of the worst sin of all - pride. So they have you covered all ways). The more God-botherers you hear on the radio debating the Easter message, the more you realise not only that they don't understand it but that if you put five bishops together, you'll get at least six opinions.
NONE of this would matter were it not for the alarming fact that religion worldwide is not in decline, as you might expect in a scientific age, but is actually growing. And as it grows, we atheists and agnostics are told that we must respect all religions, under the dark threat of "hate crime." I worry where this will lead. The year 2021 will mark 100 years since the imprisonment of John William Gott. He is usually described as the last person in Britain to be jailed for blasphemy. The last? Time will tell.
COMPUTERS don't understand how to avoid offence, which explains the response I had after booking a short break at a hotel and ticking the arrive-time box for 4pm. Back came the computer-generated reply: "The accommodation has confirmed they will be able to arrange this for you. There will be no extra charge for this request." If a human dared to suggest there was even a possibility of being charged for turning up at 4pm, you'd probably exchange a few sharp words. The computer, being brainless, simply leaves its unintended bluntness hanging in the ether. And even though you know you shouldn't be miffed, you are.
THE history of medicines is littered with surprises: blood-pressure tablets that restore hair, angina tablets that stop migraines and the tablet with the most unexpected side-effect of all, now known as Viagra. Latest unintended consequence from the industry is the news that some prescription drugs to treat an enlarged prostate gland could increase the risk of type two diabetes by a third. More evidence that the motto of the pharmaceutical business ought to be: "Suck it and see."