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Peter Rhodes on tricky rhymes, an early Christmas tree and a TV series worth the licence fee

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

Suranne Jones as Gentleman Jack

THE annual fight for our cherries is about to begin. We have decked the cherry tree in shiny metallic strips which flash in the breeze and are claimed to keep birds at bay. Maybe so, but they bring with them a dreadful sense of the year vanishing. With our shimmery tree in full glitter, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

SOME of you took issue with my assertion, on the appointment of the new Poet Laureate, that nothing rhymes with the word laureate. Several readers in Shropshire quoted their county motto "Floreat Salopia" ("This margarine tastes of soap") as proof. But floreat is a Latin word. In the same way, you could argue that laureate is a perfect rhyme with the Nepalese word gloreat, which describes an unwanted build-up of mucus in a nose flute, and czhoreat which is Serbo-Croatian for antidisestablishmentarianism. In rhyming, as in Scrabble, foreign words don't count.

ONE sour review of Gentleman Jack (BBC1) suggested other critics raved about it only because of its trendy lesbian storyline. Unfair. Here is a genuinely new and fresh serial based on an untold story with a terrific central performance by Suranne Jones, great scenery, great supporting actors and some fine modern music. It has echoes of Fleabag and Peaky Blinders and is, quite simply, the sort of quality product that almost makes you think the TV licence isn't such a rip-off after all.

INCIDENTALLY, Suranne Jones does the Fleabag / Miranda thing of making comments and sly glances directly to camera. I have seen this hailed as terribly daring, imaginative and modern but Frankie Howerd was doing it in Up Pompeii half a century ago. Ooh, Titter ye not.

ON Any Questions (Radio 4), Anna Soubry MP declared that a "people's vote" was the only way to break the Brexit deadlock. Well, not the only way. Another way would have been for MPs like Soubry to show just an ounce of humility and a little confidence in their electors, accept that Britain had voted to leave the EU, and to work quietly and constructively towards that end. Instead, she took the "I know best" approach, put her own Euro-zealotry first and, after the EU elections, is probably on the road to political oblivion. As ye sow, etc. . .

I HAVE rarely felt so proud of my fellow Brits as on seeing the video of passers-by tackling a moped gang in London a few days ago - and winning. One of the gang had a massive machete while the local heroes armed themselves with nothing more than a traffic cone. Yet they managed to detain one thug until the cops arrived and four more were nicked later. All men like to think that, in a similar situation, we would leap to the attack. But not with my bad back and dodgy ankle. And anyway, somebody's got to film it. . . .

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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