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Peter Rhodes on the cars we should have kept, the Corbyn inquiry and why a single image changes nothing

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

Death on the frontier - Mourners follow a hearse bearing the bodies of Oscar Martinez and his 23-month-old daughter Valeria

WHO were Oscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and Angie Valeria? Take your time. Give up? They were the migrant father and his baby daughter who drowned trying to cross the Rio Grande into the United States on June 23. Remember the heartbreaking photo of them locked in each other's arms even in death? This was the image, we were assured, that would change everything and transform America's attitude to illegal immigrants. Dream on. The days when a single image could change anything are long gone.

AMERICANS are bombarded 24/7 by mainstream and social media. Today's horrific slaughter is soon washed away by something worse. We in Europe are astonished that every high-school massacre or other public shooting in the States doesn't lead to gun reform. That's because we assume such events are rare. In fact, America saw 323 mass shootings last year, defined as an incident with four or more victims. The total this year is already over 200. From January to July 2019, more than 260 migrants have died trying to cross the US southern border. These deaths are literally daily events. They happen. They are forgotten. Nothing changes.

IF you're in politics and someone suggests you are losing your marbles, it is probably better to respond with a dignified and withering silence. If you engage in debate or demand an inquiry, you may be adding fuel to the fire. I can see no happy outcome for Jeremy Corbyn in the inquiry Labour has demanded into allegations that senior civil servants briefed hacks about his allegedly "frail" condition and memory loss. Until now, he has endured only gossip and innuendo. But if civil servants feel their jobs are on the line and they must defend themselves, who knows what evidence they may drag into the full glare of an inquiry? This is supposed to be an inquiry into leaks, lies and Civil Service impartiality. But it could easily turn into a forum where Jeremy Corbyn is expected to prove he is firing on all cylinders. And hand on heart, how many of us could do that?

THANKS for your tales of how older and wiser relatives steered you clear of monstrous hire-purchase deals in your youth. I was reminded of my father who, in the 1970s, talked me out of buying a VW Jeans Beetle, the limited edition in violent orange with blue denim upholstery. The cash price was £900 but the HP deal I was offered was a startling £1,400. I noticed the other day that classic Jeans Beetles turned out to be a bit of an investment and are now selling for about £6,000.

BUT then, looking back, Dad had a ruinous track record of selling cars he should have kept, and vice versa. I learned a few days ago that an Aston Martin DB5, similar to the one he sold for £1,400 in 1972, was back on the market, "in need of some restoration," at £595,000. Oh, joy.

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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