Mark Andrews on Saturday: Phone zombies, social clubs, and Mr Loophole

By Mark Andrews | Opinions | Published:

Read today's column from Mark Andrews.

Pleck Liberals celebrate winning a domino league

ACCORDING to one of the education unions, a growing number of four-year-olds arrive at primary school unable to hold a pencil.

This, they blame on local councils for replacing trained pre-school teachers with lower-paid child development officers, meaning that many nursery schools have ‘no educational input’.

Which is strange, because I never went to nursery school at all, and never had any problems holding a pencil.

On the other hand, another survey found that 87 per cent of parents were happy to let their children have access to mobile phones, tablets and other screens from the age of two. You don’t think that might have more to do with it?

ON the subject of phones, a pedestrian who stepped into the road while fiddling with her mobile has been awarded compensation after being mown down by a high-speed cyclist.

It’s like a clash of two dominant cultures of 21st century Britain: phone zombies and assertive cyclists, with the court ruling phone zombies to be the dominant species. But where do people who wander the streets at a snail's pace while listening to their headphones fit into the hierarchy?

Children as young as two are using mobile phones

Any road, infamous layer Nick ‘Mr Loophole’ Freeman has called for new laws banning people from walking into traffic while looking at their phones. A lawyer wanting more legislation, who would have thought it?


The real answer, of course, would be to tell people who wander around glued to their phones that they are responsible for what happens to them if they don’t watch where they’re walking.

Mobile phones have been in common circulation for a good 25 years now, so you would think the novelty might have worn off.

THE Birmingham ‘clean air zone’ has been delayed because the equipment needed to enforce it isn’t ready yet.

Meanwhile, the respectable-sounding Digital Policy Alliance – really a trade union for porn barons – has asked the Government for a third delay to new rules preventing children from viewing their, ahem, material. They say the latest July 15 deadline is too tight, and have asked for an extension until October. The Government has admitted it can't meet the deadline anyway, as it forgot to clear it with our masters in the European Union.


Oh, and of course we were supposed to have left the EU by March this year, but are now being told by some politicians that the delayed deadline of October 31 is a ‘fantasy’, because it doesn’t give us enough time to prepare. Of course not, we will have had only three-and-a-half years to get ready.

Can’t we do anything on time these days?

A NEW care home for the elderly is to be built on the site of the former Stourbridge Labour Club at a cost of £7 million.

It will feature its own private cinema, as well as a hair and nail salon, which is a good thing. Given that an increasing number of us will spend our later years living in residential care of some kind of some sort or another, it is important that quality accommodation is available.

But I also wonder if the loss of so many of our social clubs has contributed to what seems to have become an angrier, more polarised and aggressive society.

Stourbridge Labour Club in its heyday

A generation ago, Conservative, Labour and Liberal supporters would engage with each other by playing bowls, darts, snooker or football, and then exchange a bit of banter over a few pints in the bar afterwards.

Today they seem to just exchange insults on Facebook and Twitter, or vent their spleen at angry demonstrations.

And I think we are poorer for it.

Mark Andrews

By Mark Andrews

Senior news writer for the Shropshire Star specialising in in-depth features and commentary, investigative reporting and political matters.


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