Peter Rhodes on the demise of paper money, kids at risk on our roads and Extinction Rebellion's blockade
Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.
Having taken good ol' EA17537644 for yet another run into town, I folded it again neatly and slipped it into its home, the old mug on the mantelpiece. EA17537644 is a valuable masterpiece engraved with two fine portraits and some thought-provoking words. But, alas, it has no place in Covid-19 times. It is, of course, a £10 note.
Offering cash has become an act of social rudeness. The plastic card is king. When they come to write the tale of this pandemic, historians will hail the contactless card as the answer to a shopping crisis. In a no-touchy contagion, the no-touchy card was an invention that found its time.
On a sunny day out, I was struck by the number of families travelling by bicycle or, in some spine-chilling cases, using kiddy-carriers based on bicycles. There is no legal minimum age for cycling on England's roads and no official standards for bike-based carriers. So we see some toddlers travelling in trailers towed by bicycles or pushed, wheelbarrow-style, in front of bicycles and even babies carried in papooses by cyclists (which is illegal but the law is rarely enforced). If we are to become a post-Covid nation of cyclists, our lawmakers must get a grip on child safety.
Without the mainstream media, Extinction Rebellion (XR) would be nothing. While social media may be useful, nothing spreads a message quite like traditional newspapers, broadcasters and their websites. For the past few years XR's doom-ridden messages have been passed on by the likes of the Times and the BBC. Indeed, the Beeb has swallowed the XR message so eagerly that it actually refuses to broadcast the views of some so-called climate-change deniers. So why did XR, in blockading newspaper print works at the weekend, so spectacularly bite the hand that has fed it? Probably out of pique and plague-envy.
XR's cause, with its vague claims of mass extinctions at some indeterminate time in the future, has been utterly outclassed by Covid-19, a real and present danger which is killing thousands of humans right now. XR enjoys exercising power whether by blocking bridges or halting trains. When that power was taken away by the pandemic restrictions, it did what power-hungry people have done through the ages. It turned its fury on the messenger. The media were to blame for not reporting climate emergency properly. In XR's eyes, it should be on the front page every day.
And so they blocked the print works, only to shoot themselves in the foot by revealing their true anti-democratic and anti-freedom nature. Today XR halts the distribution of newspapers. How long before they start burning books?
Naturally the Press hit back at the blockade, pointing out our sacred duty of reporting things fairly and accurately. The Daily Mail let the side down a bit, informing us that one of the XR protesters, a former soldier, had “completed four tours of duty with the Royal Anglican Regiment.” Anglian, we presume?
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