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Peter Rhodes on more broken appointments, the real danger of smartphones and are the police working for the blood-pressure industry?

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Too busy to notice.

Who's watching the kids?

HERE'S one for you conspiracy theorists. Are the police in league with the makers of blood-pressure tablets?

DID your BP not soar to dangerous levels at the story of James Callaghan, the Essex shopkeeper who distributed CCTV images of the thief who stole a Samsung tablet from his display? The images worked. The thief was tracked to a local pawn shop and there have been "numerous reported sightings" of him. For this act of DIY crime-solving, Mr Callaghan was sternly reprimanded by community police officers who accused him of "breaching data protection laws." A police spokesman later apologised for the "misguided" officers but then hiked the nation's blood-pressure even higher with the words: "Only the police have the authority to fully investigate and prosecute those responsible for crime." Exactly. And what is poor Joe Public supposed to do when the cops have abdicated that responsibility? Calm, calm . . .

SOME of us fretty old luddites thought from the outset that mobile phones might be a health risk because of the radiation used. Thankfully, countless medical tests have failed to prove any substantial risk. But maybe we were all looking in the wrong direction. It's not the radiation that kills, it's the distraction. In this summer's heatwave, 300 people have drowned in Germany and that nation's lifeguard association has made "a direct connection" between children getting into difficulty in the water and parents being too busy on their mobile phones to notice. A spokesman says: "When your children and grandchildren are in the water, put your smartphone away."

MAYBE we should extend that advice to crossing the road. How many parents have you seen stepping off the kerb with their children, and paying far more attention to their smartphones than to the traffic or the kids?

THEY say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. It has certainly led to some hellish results for women employees at the Home Office's headquarters in Westminster. "Gender-neutral toilets," intended to make life easier for transgender folk, are being avoided by female workers because - no surprises here - of the way men behave in loos. In particular, the alpha-male habit of using a cubicle with the door wide open is said to be "quite distressing" for women. In bland Civil Servantese, a Home Office spokesman spouts the usual stuff about "creating an environment where all staff feel comfortable at work." The reality is that at least half the staff feel deeply uncomfortable in unisex loos. What is the point in bending over backwards to please a minority if it embarrasses and humiliates the majority?

MORE tales of woe from the NHS appointments system. A reader recalls one appointment to see her GP. She arranged it online and the appointment was confirmed by a series of text messages sent by the surgery. On the day in question, a bitter, snowy morning, she turned up to be told "in a manner as cold as the weather outside," that she could not have an appointment because the doctor had left the practice.

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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