Peter Rhodes on sales pitches for missiles, getting rid of old cars and a crisis in Wales
Who are the real belittlers of Welsh?
GREAT news for motorists. As a result of a crackdown on bogus whiplash-injury claims, we are told "car-insurance premiums have fallen for the first time since 2014." This looks like one of those things that only affect other people. My premium for this year fell upwards, as always.
ANOTHER report reveals we are driving more old vehicles than ever. The number of cars over 13 years old has almost tripled in 20 years. The experts cite changes in car taxation and uncertainty about the future of diesel, but there is another crucial factor: rust. Since the early 2000s most cars have been rustproofed as never before. That's why you see so many 04 and 05-registered cars in great condition. By making cars last longer, car makers have undermined their own future.
CONSPIRACY theory corner. If politicians feared that long-lasting cars might bankrupt the motor industry, how could they suddenly scrap lots of old cars to kick-start sales? They could tighten the MoT test. They could ignore millions of pot holes. It's happening, folks.
OPINIONS vary on whether the weekend missile attack on Syria was a warning for all gas-armed dictators or a dubious adventure. But for some folk it was a priceless bit of research and development. Government defence departments spend billions on the latest hi-tech weaponry and can get bedazzled by the slick advertising presentations and glossy brochures. The truth is that the only proper test of the kit is a real shooting war with all its confusion, adrenaline and cock-ups. That's when you discover that your shiny new missile, "perfected to overcome all enemy counter-measures and neutralise the target with pin-point accuracy," has a depressing tendency to flatten the nearest hospital. This time the Brits, French and Yanks confirmed that their weaponry works perfectly while the 1990s anti-aircraft batteries used by Syria were as much use as a fly swat. What we don't know is how the same Western wizardry would cope with the latest Russian equipment. And let us hope we never find out.
IF you don't believe weapons of war are marketed just like cars and mobile phones, pick up any American or British military review and read the advertising blurb. The arms companies use a sweet and gentle language all of their own. That new multi-barrel mortar launcher will "sanitise" an area, "neutralise" your enemy and "interdict" his supply routes. The weapons-advert writers tend to avoid words such as "kill," "maim" and "disembowel".
I WROTE recently about columnist Rod Liddle being accused of "belittling the Welsh language." But despite compulsory Welsh lessons in schools, all-Welsh TV and radio channels, and making Welsh-speaking a condition of some employment, the proportion of Welsh folk fluently speaking this ancient and beautiful language has declined in the past 100 years from about 40 per cent to less than 20 per cent. The bitter truth is that the real belittlers of Welsh are the Welsh.