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Peter Rhodes on a smiling singleton, being handcuffed to the internet and a politician's act of self-destruction

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

Emma Watson - happy single

The House of Commons has been through a period of snags and friction. A reader says the appointment of a new Speaker will turn it into a well-Hoyled machine.

Marketing among the rock pools. A cottage-hire company in Devon emails to let us know of some add-on improvements to their service such as private catering and gourmet hampers. And all we have to do is log in to their new portal, register to create an account, enter our customer ID number and email address, choose a password and "you are free to browse." And only a technophobic old curmudgeon would point out that the main attraction of a blissful summer fortnight in sunny Devon is blessed escape from log-ins, portals, ID numbers, passwords, browsing and all the other amnesia-inducing clutter that goes with being handcuffed 24/7 to the internet.

The Harry Potter star Emma Watson says she's happy being single and regards herself as "being self-partnered." In my youth I tried that for a while. The conversations are agreeable but you have to buy all the drinks.

The Moral Maze (Radio 4) was busy re-writing history this week, asking whatever happened to the "heady optimism" at the toppling of the Berlin Wall 30 years ago. The simple answer, no matter what we would like to remember, is that the optimism was patchy.

In the period around the fall of the Wall, I went to a series of Government and Nato briefings, both as a journalist and reservist army officer. The message was grim. While the Cold War with its threat of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) was a terrible thing, it was at least stable and, crucially, both sides were talking to each other. No-one knew what would follow the demise of the Soviet Union and its allies but we were told to expect unrest in Yugoslavia, the Baltic states and in the Muslim countries to the south of Russia. And that's what happened. Lest we forget, the Wall came down amid a sea of champagne - and an ocean of foreboding.

Old-fashioned, foppish, somewhat out-of-touch but decent and essentially humane. .Jacob Rees-Mogg has spent his entire political career creating and preserving that rather Victorian persona. And then, in a few stupid words about Grenfell Tower, it all turns to dust. Or possibly to ashes. By a wild coincidence, on the day Rees-Mogg stupidly suggested Grenfell Tower residents should have used "common sense" to escape the fire, his own effigy was burned, alongside Boris Johnson's, at the famous bonfire celebrations in Lewes, Sussex.

Talking of which, how many more Bonfire Nights will we see? Do kids still get excited by bangs and whooshes in a cold, muddy field or would they rather not pollute the atmosphere, terrify animals and offend Catholics, and be warm at home doing something in cyberspace? I suspect the age of fireworks is passing.

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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