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Peter Rhodes on the canals of Brum, heavyweight trippers and a crucial difference between cars and boats.

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

Is that Brum?

AFTER last week's wild weather, I met an AA recovery man, fresh from towing three cars out of floods. "The problem," he explained patiently, "is that some people don't understand the different concept between a car and a boat."

WHICH is odd, given that mankind has shared this planet with cars and boats for many years. The chief difference is that if a boat hurtles at high speed into water, it floats. If a car hurtles at high speed into water, it also floats. But then it sinks.

BRUGES is the latest city to announce plans to restrict tourism in order to save it from being turned into a sort of Disneyland. In one report, the pretty little Belgian city was described as "the Venice of the North." This is a title also claimed by St Petersburg, Stockholm, Amsterdam and, of course, Birmingham. The wit Clive Anderson once pointed out that while Birmingham has more miles of canals than Venice, the canals of Venice are full of gondolas while the canals of Birmingham are full of shopping trolleys.

AS night follows day, my suggestion last week of scrapping the TV licence angers those who assume I'm talking about dismantling the BBC. Not a bit of it. The Beeb is a national treasure but forcing people to buy a licence to watch it, on pain of jail, is all wrong. The links between Whitehall and Broadcasting House have always run deep. And if you think of the BBC as an extension of the Civil Service, it makes sense to fund it the same way, from general taxation. So the rich pay more and the poor pay nothing. Perfect.

NO surprises in the cliff railway at Bridgnorth having to be reinforced. It was made 120 years ago for delicate Victorians and is buckling under the weight of today's lardarse trippers. I used to work in an office which had a 1930s lift with the warning: "Maximum eight people or 1200 lbs." That was based on the average adult weighing about 10.7 stones. That lift was a tight fit for four of us.

IN the debate about taking kids on holiday in school-term time, teachers are usually fervently against it. So after last week's item, I was surprised to get a letter from a lifelong teacher who says in his experience a couple of weeks' absence, whether for holiday, illness or bereavement "didn't make a scrap of difference to their overall attainment."

HE goes on: "Kids are incredibly resilient.They catch up, they adjust; they learn from their mates.In short they cope, and it is only persistent or unduly lengthy offenders. who should be taken to task." Discuss, using at least one side of the paper.

MICHAEL Palin and Prince William are both famous gigglers. So goodness knows how they managed to keep straight faces as the Prince knighted the Python with a sword at Buckingham Palace. Thankfully, the the new knight did not say: "Ni!"

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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