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Peter Rhodes on the Boris Bounce, Ms Nandy's smile and whatever happened to fish knives?

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

Optimist – Lisa Nandy

How is it that if our shopping bill goes up it's inflation which is supposed to be bad but if house prices go up it's the “Boris Bounce,” which is supposed to be good?

It's the O-word wot dun it. As the GMB union threw its comradely weight behind Lisa Nandy for Labour leader this week, its general secretary Tim Roache, spoke warmly of her leadership, ambition - and optimism. Optimism was the missing ingredient in Jeremy Corbyn's doomed general election campaign. It seemed that in his world view there was no happy ending, just permanent struggle towards a pure version of socialism that could never be achieved. The future under Corbynism looked about as jolly as a vinegar-tasting festival in Ipswich. The lesson of Boris Johnson's success is that you've got to offer the voters hope and joy and, if possible, an assortment of sunlit uplands. They may not always believe you but at least they know you want the same sort of things.

Do you find yourself wondering how many people campaigning to keep league tables for A&E delays at NHS hospitals are the same folk who campaign against league tables at state schools?

Reflecting on her 1969 wedding gift of fish knives and forks, a Daily Telegraph reader in Solihull asks: “Who still uses separate cutlery for fish?” This may tell you something about Solihull.

The real question about fish cutlery is, did anyone ever use it? Those pointy-ended knives with a curious cut-out blade were always laid for dinner in the best hotels but no-one seemed to know what to do with them. In the privacy of some families, silver fish cutlery became the ideal Christening gift, passing down the family tree, much admired, never used and ideal for handing on, to bewilder generations yet unborn.

With just a week to go to Brexit, there has been some talk of Britain moving away from the metric system and embracing once again the old Imperial measures. Truth is, we never really left it. We may pay lip service to metres, Celsius and tonnes but we still pop down the pub for a pint and, when a baby is born, we expect to be told its weight in lbs and ozs, not kilograms.

But beware of what you wish for. If we had an Imperial revolution, where would it end? Being of a certain age, I felt at home on trips to the United States where gallons, pints and Fahrenheit still apply. Then I came across a roadside shop in Texas selling fruit by the bushel, whatever that is. And what of furlongs, chains, poles and perches? We may pretend to get all nostalgic for Imperial measurements but the truth is we never understood half of them. (Don't forget, there are 22 poles to a firkin and 1,760 acres in a perch).

And guineas? What were they all about?

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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