Mark Andrews: You won't believe why it's taking so long to build a tramline

Mark Andrews takes a wry look at the week that was.

Work on the tram lines in Wolverhampton
Work on the tram lines in Wolverhampton

In 1835, Isambard Kingdom Brunel was commissioned to build the Great Western Railway. By the end of 1840, it ran for 74 miles from Paddington to Wootton Bassett.

I only mention this because it is about five-and-a-half years since work commenced on a few hundred yards of tram line to Wolverhampton Railway Station. And still no sign of any trams.

I think I know why.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel

A few weeks ago, I watched the man operating a machine which cuts the groove into the road. He cut a few inches, then stopped for five minutes. Then he did a few more, and stopped again. He explained that every time somebody walked past without ear muffs, health-and-safety laws required him to stop work. And given that this was outside the railway station at eight in the morning, there were quite a few people walking around. And few had thought to bring ear muffs along.

With rules like that, you wonder how anything gets built in Britain.

* * *

Ban Bitcoin to save the planet

A press release dropped in my inbox this week, claiming energy consumed by so-called Bitcoin mining would raise global temperatures by 2C.

Like most claims about global warming, I have no idea whether it is true. And I suspect the people who sent it don't really know either.

But given that we are expected to put ourselves through all sorts of pain over the next decade to prevent a 1.5C rise in temperatures, would it not be a good idea to ban Bitcoin first, and then worry about cars and central heating?

* * *

Father Ted and Dougal's Eurovision video

There was once a very funny episode of Father Ted, where the Irish broadcasters chose a pair of tone-deaf priests warbling about taking a horse to the dentist as their country's Eurovision entry.

They wanted to lose the contest so they wouldn't have to fund it next year.

Needless to say, the supposedly cash-strapped BBC has kindly volunteered to host next year's Eurovision. Which I'm sure will go down a storm with the over-75s who have had their free licences withdrawn.

* * *

Olympic sport?

The governing body of Quidditch, the made-up game in the Harry Potter novels where competitors fly around on broomsticks, is changing its name to Quadball, to distance itself from J K Rowling over something she posted on Twitter years ago.

Yes, I know. There really are grown-ups who play an imaginary game from a children's novel, and have even set up a 'governing body'.

Still, given that skateboarding, BMX riding and break-dancing are now Olympic sports, it can only be a matter of time before Quidditch is included.

* * *

Interest rates up half a per cent, soaring inflation, a looming recession. Looks like dark times will be with us for a while.

Beware anyone offering easy solutions, be it Liz Truss's unfunded tax cuts, or union militants demanding 12 per cent pay hikes. Any of this will just pour petrol on the fire.

The truth is, all we can do is batten down the hatches and live within our reduced means. But wouldn't it be a nice gesture if our leaders took a voluntary pay cut to demonstrate solidarity?

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