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Peter Rhodes on loudmouths in London, shoplifting on the telly and waiting for the Beast

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Brexit brevity

Sharon Horgan in Catastrophe

STRANGELY, there is nothing in the weather forecasts to suggest much frost between now and the last week of January. This, being good-weather news, does not get much media coverage. We are watching the eastern horizon. We are saving our ink for The Beast.

AFTER last week's item on the soaring cost of car insurance, a reader tells me her premium for the coming year went up this week by £96. She rang the company to protest in the politest terms and they immediately cut the proposed hike by £50. Moral: if you don't ask, you don't get.

THE new series of the award-winning comedy Catastrophe (C4) began with a bit of casual, middle-class shoplifting by Sharon (Sharon Horgan) who swapped some price tags in a clothes shop. She got caught but there seemed to be no punishment or remorse. Do such incidents in TV dramas tempt viewers to do the same?

POLICE take little interest in arresting shoplifters these days, so the 20,000 cases reported each year in the West Midlands are probably the tip of the iceberg. Home Office statistics show the number of offences of shoplifting in England rose by nearly 23 per cent between 2013 and 2017, costing British shops about £800 million a year. Theft from stores is happening on an industrial scale and in some areas seems to be regarded as normal. A reader tells me she recently bought a tiny £2 pot of craft paint in a DIY store. The man on the checkout greeted her with: "Blimey, you're honest. Most people just nick these."

NOT in my name. The characters bellowing at Anna Soubry and other MPs outside the House of Commons this week do not speak for Brexit or even for Britain. They are just loudmouths who enjoy being in the company of other loudmouths and seem to relish confronting a woman at close quarters. There is an irony here. These protesters claim to be great patriots. Yet at the heart of the nation they claim to speak for is a quiet dignity and restraint that somehow escapes them. No decent Brit sticks his big, ugly mug into a woman's face and yells at her, no matter what the circumstances. Such behaviour may not always be unlawful but it is, to use some old-fashioned words, ungallant, unmanly and frankly un-English.

OF course, anyone can understand the anger of ordinary people who, having won a famous victory in the 2016 Referendum, now fear their triumph is about to be scrapped by the ruling elite who promised faithfully to deliver it. But it's not even clear that the bawlers and barrackers outside the Commons were there to fight for Brexit. Sky News's sharp-eyed James Farrell noted this little incident: "The day in Westminster on Monday was summed up when someone in a yellow vest shouted: 'What do we want?' and his fellow protesters went momentarily silent."

MY computer spell check suggests "Brexit" should be "brevity." If only.

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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