At a time when our sovereign state and several of its institutions are looking decidedly rocky, we could well have done without the awful Prince Andrew affair.
Politics has taken on a toxic air in the last year or so following the decision to leave Europe.
The anonymity provided by social media has encouraged ordinary people to post vile and poisonous messages about their perceived opponents; MPs are threatened with violence (indeed one, Jo Cox, was killed); the main opposition party is charged with anti-Semitism and threats against the Muslim community are reported daily.
In the past, such as times of war, the royal family offered itself as a focus of unity and loyalty.
Older people will remember King George VI and Queen Elizabeth being cheered by the crowds as they toured shattered East London after Nazi air raids during World War II.
Today, alas, the focus is on Andrew, Duke of York, his friendship with the late convicted American paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and accusations that he had sex with Virginia Roberts Giuffre when she was 17.
Andrew, aged 59 and divorced from Sarah Ferguson, decided to state his case in a BBC TV interview. Bad move!
His ineptness and apparent lack of sympathy for Epstein’s victims made things worse and his performance was widely disparaged as “disastrous” and a “car crash”.
Six out of 10 people polled considered the interview damaged the monarchy’s reputation and two-thirds thought he should be interviewed by America’s FBI.
The result was a decision effectively to retire Prince Andrew from royal duties.
SILENCE IS GOLDEN
Plans for a reception at Buckingham Palace to mark his 60th birthday were shelved and he is standing down from the patronage of 230 charities and organisations, decisions which are said to be fully endorsed by his elder brother, Prince Charles, heir to the throne.
The Queen herself, aged 93, is said to be deeply frustrated that the scandal has overshadowed the royal family’s work for social good.
There is a well-known expression, “Silence is golden”. It is a pity the prince did not think of this when the idea of a television interview was suggested.
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In the past, children would get cheese sandwiches, tomato sandwiches or possibly cheese and tomato sandwiches.
Today, they might chose sandwiches containing more exotic items and could that be a problem?
Official figures show that the number of children being admitted to hospital in England with severe allergic reactions has risen every year for the last five years, reaching 1,746 in 2018-19.
Scientists say dietary changes could be part of the reason.
Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, aged 15, had a severe and fatal allergic reaction to an artichoke, olive and tapenade (puree of olives, capers and anchovies) baguette.
She was allergic to sesame but this was not listed on the product label.
High on the list of the 14 most widely known danger foods are peanuts, eggs and milks, all pretty easy to spot or check about.
As for more exotic items, a law is now being drafted to require producers of prepacked foods to list all their ingredients.
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There’s a chant all British children know, “Finders keepers, losers weepers,” which is of particular relevance today to the former coal-mining community of Blackhall Colliery.
Over the last five years, 13 cash bundles of £2,000 (Ksh265,270) each have been found lying there in plain sight and handed in to the police by honest residents.
Like most pit villages, Blackhall Colliery suffered economically when coal-mining ended in Britain and a widely held belief is that some rich person with ties to the village wants to help out hard-hit residents.
The legal system states that 28 days are allowed for a person to claim lost property handed to the police. If no claim is made, the object in question can be claimed by the finder.
At Blackhall Colliery, DC John Forster said “every penny” of the cash bundles given to the police had since been returned to the finders.
What neither the police nor anyone else knows is how many £2,000 bundles might have been spotted and quietly pocketed.
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Grandad was reminiscing about the good old days. “Your mother would give you 10 bob to go shopping and you would come back with two pounds of potatoes, a dozen eggs, three bottles of milk and a couple of lamb chops. Can’t do that these days,” he mused. “Too many security cameras.”
A criminal was put in a cell which had no windows or doors, no holes in the ceiling or trapdoors in the floor, yet next morning he was gone.
How had he escaped? Answer: Through the doorway. There were no doors, remember.
A policeman was escorting a prisoner to jail when the wind blew his hat off. “Should I run and get it?” the prisoner asked politely.
“Do you think I’m stupid? said the officer. “You stay here and I’ll go for it myself.”