Peter Rhodes on a childhood punch-up, growing up with girls and a slippery explanation
Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.
RESEARCHERS in France say little boys learn to speak earlier if they have an older sister rather than an older brother. This is because older sisters "are far more willing to talk to their younger siblings." Aren't they just? If you grew up with an older sister, you'll be well aware of the patter: "I'm the princess and you're my servant and you have to do eveything I say. First, you must polish my throne, then you must clean my pony." The little boy may learn to speak quickly, but he also learns not to answer back.
TALKING of childhood, I was sorting some 1950s family photos the other day and came across one of me, aged about five. I was presenting a bouquet to Lady Barbara Bossom, wife of the local MP, who was opening the church fete in Kington. And what a vision of loveliness I was in my little pumps and white socks, silk shirt and bow-tie. But every picture tells a story and this particular story is about the infinite ability of little boys to horrify their parents.
ON the way home from my Little Lord Fauntleroy impression, I got into a slanging match with some of the village kids. Fists flew. Stones were thrown. Nothing bleeds quite like a small boy with a head wound. My split forehead was pretty cool but the outfit was bloodstained beyond future use. No matter how womenfolk may choose to dress us, the male of the species is basically a barbarian, especially if you make him wear a bow-tie.
HERE'S a poser. If Brexit had not come along, what on earth would politicians, pundits and people be snarling about today? I'd put my money on the vexed issue of illicit traveller encampments. Tory MPs have been demanding legislation to make trespass a criminal offence, as has happened in Ireland. In contrast, Jeremy Corbyn says he values the right of people to "a nomadic lifestyle" and his shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, declares: "We need a Labour government that will stand up for equality and stand with the Traveller community." As it is, the caravans have been kicked into the long grass by the all-consuming issue of Brexit. But they won't go away.
I DO not believe in the Loch Ness Monster. However, the latest "explanation" simply doesn't square with the accounts of many witnesses. Over the centuries, folk have described a dinosaur-size creature rising from the depths, something as big as a sheep slithering across a road and an unseen object leaving a bow-wave as big as a ship's. The idea that Nessie might be nothing more than a large eel, as suggested by new DNA analysis, hardly squares with such dramatic incidents. It's like those UFO abduction tales when apparently rational people describe being beamed up into huge flying saucers and dissected by alien life-forms - and some "expert" explains it away as a sighting of a weather balloon.