Mark Andrews: Butterflies, bangers and cash

By Mark Andrews | Opinions | Published:

Read today's column from Mark Andrews.

Smart meter advert – creepy or what?

OH, the wonders of our Instagram and crowd-funding age.

Catalin Onc and his wife Elena Engelhardt hope to raise awareness about mental health issues by riding a tandem from Germany to Africa.

Now, I'm always sceptical about people who talk about 'raising awareness'. Too often it seems to be a euphemism for 'showing off'.

But this pair take it to new levels of self-indulgence. Not only do they both live with Catalin's mother, who does two jobs to keep them in the manner they are accustomed, but the pair are also asking for public donations to cover the £9,000 cost of their trip.

They do at least have the self-awareness to recognise people may question their motives.

"Some will just tell us to get jobs, like everyone else and stop begging," they say on their crowd-funding page. "But when you have the impact we do on others’ life, getting a job is not an option."

Hmm. Judging from their picture, I wonder if there is another reason why getting a job is not an option?


Catalin Onc and wife Elena – any idea why he can't get a job?

AM I the only one who finds those adverts where children are pleading with adults to save the planet by getting so-called ‘smart’ gas and electric meters just a little bit creepy?

Firstly, there is something just a little unseemly about using children to tug at the heartstrings, particularly to promote a controversial device on the basis of some highly tenuous claims about the environmental benefits.


But what really worries me is the advert's vision of what the future should be like.

Yes, I want to live in a beautiful world. But not one in which 4ft-high butterflies swarm around the balconies of tower blocks. It looks more like a horror movie.

Boris, got a new motor?

HAVE you noticed how, since entering the race to become Tory leader, Boris Johnson has ditched his old jalopy?

Until about a month ago, we regularly saw Boris driving around in a tatty 25-year-old Toyota Previa, which is essentially a builder's van with carpet. Now, all of a sudden, he is picked up from his home every day in a shiny black chauffeur-driven Land Rover.

A shame really, because I quite liked the idea of seeing the old Toyota parked outside Downing Street. Trouble is, the police would probably tow it away.

It reminds me a bit of Kenneth Clarke, who was once spotted driving his old Ford Escort XR3i with no road tax, and who moved his possessions out of Downing Street in a knackered old Transit.

I presume they are trying to show they are just ordinary blokes, men of the people. But I'm pretty sure that most ordinary people, on reaching the pinnacle of the political ladder, would spend at least some of their very decent salaries on a respectable set of wheels.

And they would call Pickfords, rather than Rent-a-Wreck, when it was time to move on.

DECORATED Falklands veteran Tony McNally got a visit from the boys in blue after joking on Twitter "maybe it's time for a military coup to sort Brexit out."

While – quite rightly, I would say – Jo Brand has been told she will face no action for her nevertheless irresponsible joke about throwing acid at politicians she disagrees with, no such slack has been extended to Tony. Two officers were sent around to his home and gave him a stern telling off, even citing the murder of MP Jo Cox.

All this at a time when we are told the police desperately need more resources to fight crime.

Maybe they do, but they don't help themselves with things like this, do they?

Mark Andrews

By Mark Andrews

Senior news writer for the Shropshire Star specialising in in-depth features and commentary, investigative reporting and political matters.


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