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Peter Rhodes on a royal retreat, open-plan irritations and how to avoid blackouts

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

Bad news

MY electoral-roll form has just arrived, to be duly updated and returned. Yours, too? Whatever can be going on?

THERE is no hiding place for Her Majesty. If Boris Johnson loses a vote of no-confidence in the Commons next month, Labour is said to be planning to knock on the Queen's door to inform her that they are forming the new government. It's at times like this you appreciate the real advantages of a Royal Yacht.

A SURVEY reveals huge differences between cremation charges across the UK - they are high in Guildford, but low in Ulster. There is a lesson here: if you're feeling peaky, head for Belfast.

IN a warming, overcrowded world, we should be learning new definitions of good and bad news. Every new discovery of natural gas in the North Sea used to be good news. Now, it ought to be seen as bad news. Half-a-century ago, the news that Britain's post-war population was rising was good news. Today, we should actually celebrate the latest figures which show the UK birthrate is now the lowest ever recorded. Yet old ways die hard. Even the enlightened Observer sees a falling population as something to be rectified, with its lofty leader column: "The Observer view on immigration being the answer to falling birth rates." But this isn't an issue seeking an answer. If the population of this island, now heading crazily toward 70 million, gradually fell to 55 million, life would be better for everybody.

IF nothing else, after last week's blackouts, the UK's future electricity supply might be rather more reliable shared among 55 million than 70 million. The way these wind turbines are breeding, we might end up with one each.

MY piece on doctors' surgeries becoming open-plan, with nowhere to discuss intimate ailments, struck a chord with many readers. But just as many of you were irritated by the same open-plan trend in banks and building societies. I sympathise; my local building society has recently been stripped of counters and screens. The details of your financial situation, once whispered in hushed tones through the grille, are now discussed across a table in full view of the waggly-eared citizenry.

A READER describes the bleak open-plan experience thus: "You are greeted by somebody who looks about eight with the obligatory tablet. He asks you what you want, and then you wait for an adult to take care of you."

THE teenager who allegedly threw a child from the viewing platform at Tate Modern is so young that his name will probably never be revealed, for legal reasons. But in the course of this case, watch out for two words which, if past tragedies are any guide, will almost certainly be mentioned. Cannabis and paranoia.

THE latest telly advert for Coca-Cola suggests drinking a can of the stuff before bungee jumping. Don't try this at home, kids.

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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