Peter Rhodes on phones in cars, photos in boxes and the best Brexit minister we never had

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read today's column by Peter Rhodes.

Gisela Stuart - good sense

IF you've ever been in a car as the driver uses a hands-free phone, you'll have noticed it's not really hands-free at all. It occupies one hand while the user consults his contacts list. It also fully occupies the eyes - and that's before the driver has started devoting his interest to the actual call. In terms of driver-distraction, it's on a par with watching TV while playing chess. Calling for a ban on their use this week, the Commons Select Transport Committee says a hands-free phone can be as dangerous as a normal mobile and is as risky as driving at the blood-alcohol limit.

SO why were hands-free devices allowed in the first place? I suspect the answer is that, like so many other car accessories, from skinny spare tyres to light bulbs that can only be changed at a garage, car phone systems have been driven more by design concerns and fad-appeal than safety issues plus, of course, some serious lobbying. I wonder how many MPs studying this new report have been wined and dined by the motor industry.

AS if to prove the select committee's case, their report emerged just a few days after magistrates fined Kerrie Wilson for careless driving. She became distracted while trying to use the hands-free phone in an unfamiliar car and collided head-on with another vehicle. It can happen to anyone. Ms Wilson is assistant chief constable of Lincolnshire Police.

GISELA Stuart is the best Brexit minister we never had. The German-born former Labour MP was warning about Britain's membership of the EU long before the word "Brexit" was invented. She stood down at the last General Election, depriving the Brexit movement of a sound and powerful voice but still pops up with occasional words of wisdom, including these a few days ago: "There is no logic in MPs saying that they respect the result of the referendum, voting for implementing Article 50 and then going on to defeat all options put in front of them in the expectation that this would somehow overturn the referendum. " Stuart does well to remind some Remain MPs that the only reason we are heading for a no-deal Brexit today is because of the way they have voted, and refused to heed the voice of the people, over the past three years.

THINGS to do on a rainy day. I am nearing the end of my mission to catalogue our family photos from the 1900s onwards. It works best using transparent files with a couple of key images showing through the lid.Year One nativity play and a signed photo of the Chuckle Brothers? Yup, that's the 1990s.

WE are probably the last generation that will ever deal with large numbers of photos, which may be a blessing. My archive of nearly 120 years fills 10 box files. In digital form, stored on memory chips, they could be held in a single matchbox. A matchbox? It's a sort of small container once used for holding matches. Matches . . ?

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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