Peter Rhodes on the return of governesses, the folly of telly and an alternative to Tom's Law

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Wanted - for £1,300 a week
Wanted - for £1,300 a week

Snowdrops are blooming but are so close to the ground that we rarely smell them. If we did, we'd discover that some garden varieties have a distinct scent of honey. Trust me, this is not April the First.

Desperately seeking privacy? Then why not spend 90 minutes on the telly with Oprah? After all, there is not a single problem in life, especially royal celebrity life, that cannot be solved by sitting down with a reporter or chat-show host and spilling the lot. As seen with the Duke of York, The Prince of Wales and the doomed Diana. Yeah, go for it, Harry and Megs (do they never learn?)

If you believe everything you read, the lockdown has done wonders for a career you may have thought extinct. Governesses, once seen in the best of Victorian homes, are suddenly in demand as the rich and famous seek to entertain and educate their children at home during the pandemic. Modern governesses can earn between £700 and £1,300 a week. That's an awful lot of spoonfuls of sugar.

In February 2019 Tom McConnachie was killed by an uninsured drink-driver who left him fatally injured in the road. The offender was able to continue driving for 11 months afterward before being disqualified, because only a court can disqualify a driver. The bereaved family are campaigning for “Tom's Law” which would empower police to issue a notice immediately, banning a dangerous driver at the roadside until the case comes to court. MPs are to debate the issue.

“Tom's Law” may sound a great idea but a police officer's judgment is no substitute for a court of law. In any case, who would enforce such bans? And why wait for an accident to happen at all?

An estimated one million drivers have no insurance. Trapping them, thanks to number-plate recognition devices, has never been easier. In theory, it should be impossible for any driver to cover more than a few miles without being nicked, fined and having the vehicle impounded. In reality, the plate-reading cameras tend to be used in brief blitzes. The odds are against getting caught, so no wonder hundreds of thousands of motorists think it's worth the gamble. A properly-funded 365 day-a-year detection campaign would tip the odds, save lives and prove extremely popular with honest road users. If that were Tom's legacy, we wouldn't need Tom's Law.

Meanwhile, a reader on essential work describes using the motorways in lockdown: empty lanes, civilised driving, endless parking space at the service stations and fresh, hot coffee without queuing. Sounds like heaven. Sounds like 1969.

A reader comments on the ethical pressure for landowners to accept rewilding of beavers, only for them to suffer from the rodents' activities. As he puts it: “You'll be dammed if you do, and damned if you don't.” I wish I'd thought of that.

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