Mark Andrews: Fake news, Naked Attraction, low plug sockets and time to get back to the office

Mark Andrews takes a wry look at the week that was.

When did you last watch Channel 4?
When did you last watch Channel 4?

According to Ofcom, six per cent of the population believe everything they read online, and only 22 per cent are able to decipher fact from fiction while trawling the worldwide web.

Which begs the question: should we worry about this, or just dismiss it as fake news?

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Naked Attraction – vital part of our culture?

Howls of outrage over plans to sell-off Channel 4, which have been described by various luminaries – well, shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell – as an "act of cultural vandalism".

Quite right. Imagine life without Steph's Packed Lunch, Gogglebox and Naked Attraction's Best Naughty Bits.

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By the way, it probably won't come as too much of a surprise to learn that I had to dig out the newspaper listings to write that last sentence. Because, let's face it, for all the fury about Channel 4's future, none of us actually watch it, do we? It ceased being relevant to me when Drop The Dead Donkey ended. In 1998.

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As Britain's response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis lurches from one farce to another, it's good to see local government jobsworths doing their bit to maintain suitable levels of chaos. It was revealed this week that one household was stopped from housing refugees because its plug sockets were too low. Another family was told to drain its pond before it could house children. There was even a millionaire who was told his five-bedroom villa "needed upgrading".

All I can say is that if the hi-viz fetishists think low plugs and garden ponds are dangerous, they should see what it's like in Mariupol.

It's amazing, though, that no matter how many times we are told local government finances are at breaking point, they can always find money for nit-picking clipboard jockeys to cause a nuisance.

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Not that central government, and the Home Office in particular, should escape criticism for its appalling response to the refugee crisis.

One wonders how much of this is down to public officials hiding behind long-defunct coronavirus guidelines to excuse fourth-rate service.

Almost every time you try to contact a public service these days – if you are lucky enough to reach a human being by telephone – you have to negotiate a "customer service adviser". Who says the person you need to speak to is "working from home due to Covid" and suggests you send an email instead. Which, we all know, means kicking your query into the long grass.

Not good enough. The work-from-home guidance finished months ago. If people can provide the same level of service from home – and that means answering the phone – fine. If not, get back into the factory.

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