Shropshire Star

Mark Andrews: Pitfalls of Luke's fame, Post Office scandal, and all-year-round fairy lights

Congratulations to Luke Littler, for coming runner-up in the PDC World Championship, just over a fortnight before his 17th birthday.

Luke Littler

He may find that his fame will come at a price, though. First of all, HM Revenue and Customs will relieve him of 45 per cent of his £200,000 prize money. And also, despite looking about 35, he will quickly discover that every pub in the land now knows that he is under 18.

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Luke is clearly a very talented and disciplined young man, who deserves all the praise that has been heaped on him, but I do struggle to understand why anybody actually watches darts. The idea of paying upwards of £50 to sit in a room with a group of men throwing arrows at a board on the wall seems utterly inexplicable, and even more so when it is described as a 'sport'.

I remember when darts was really popular, the days of Eric Bristow and Jocky Wilson. Would you seriously describe either of those gents as sportsmen? Hey, I even used to play myself, and wasn't too bad at it. And believe me, any game that I can play should never be considered a sport.

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ITV's brilliant drama Mr Bates vs the Post Office has done a magnificent job in bringing to life the gross miscarriage of justice endured by a number of post office workers from our region. Having covered a number of these cases over the years, the one thing that always struck me was the unshakeable faith placed by both the Post Office and the courts in a computer system. Year after year, as the evidence mounted up against the Horizon database, press officers from the Post Office would repeat ad nauseum that the system processed millions of transactions every day without incident, and that it was robust and reliable.

Humans seem to have been conditioned to believe that computers are so clever that they can't possibly make mistakes. In reality, they are just machines, like spin dryers or food mixers. They developer faults and break down.

Another reason why we should continue to resist every effort by the financial giants to cajole us into online banking.

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It is also why plans to allow teenagers to sit GCSE English exams on their computer sound like utter madness.

Apart from the obvious expense of equipping them with computers, not to mention the fact that is sounds like a cheat's charter, can you imagine the scope for wrong incorrect grades being awarded just because the computer has thrown a wobbly?

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Fairy lights are for life, not just Christmas, at least in Wednesfield, near Wolverhampton where traders and residents like them so much the council has decided to keep them on all year round.

Fair enough, if that's what folk want. But I was quite interested in the job title given to Councillor Craig Collingswood, the man responsible for the decision.

In more sensible times, Councillor Collingswood would have been known as the chairman of the public works committee. But in today's touchy-feely society, he is now known as 'cabinet member for environment and climate change'. Now call me old-fashioned, but I thought this climate change caper was all about turning lights off, not leaving them on.