Peter Rhodes on confusing symptoms, friends in need and the difficulty of spending money

Read Monday's column from Peter Rhodes.

White van man's in charge
White van man's in charge

A report says the symptoms of Covid-19, especially in those who have been double-jabbed, may be similar to cold symptoms. Which in turn are similar to the symptoms of the so-called super-colds currently doing the rounds and also to those of flu. So if you're feeling awful, don't expect anyone to know what it is. Especially if they're on the end of a phone.

Police have reported an increase in the number of scam text and WhatsApp messages which purport to be from a family member. Typically, the caller claims to have changed their phone or phone number, and addresses the text to “Mum” or some other likely relative.

Then comes the pitch. They are hard-up and desperately need to pay some bills by midnight. Can Mum oblige? And Mum, assuming it's one of her kids and being a warm-hearted soul, dutifully transfers hundreds or even thousands of pounds to the scammer.

Police have called this “friend in need” gambit a despicable crime. So are we all full of sympathy for Mum? No, me neither. By now surely everyone knows that cyberspace is a den of thieves and any request for money should be regarded as dodgy. If she gets another puzzling text message, Mum would be well advised to answer on the lines of: “Sorry to hear of your problem, dear. Now, remind me, what was your puppy called?”

Why won't Brits spend, spend, spend?” asks the Sunday Times, wondering what has happened to the estimated £150 billion stashed away by non-spending folk during the pandemic.

Spend? Just try spending it. Fancy a second home? In some areas, four buyers are reckoned to be chasing every home for sale. How about a shiny new car? Thanks to a global shortage of microchips, some showrooms are empty of stock. Then what about some home improvements? Our plumber turned up six weeks after he was due, and the decorator says he's unlikely to get here before Christmas. Those with money will part with it only when people in white vans agree to take it. As Confucius probably never said.

The Guardian reports: “Just over half of Britons did not know that six million Jewish people were murdered during the Holocaust.”

No surprises there. From casual observation, I reckon just over half of Britons know nothing about anything.

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