Peter Rhodes on wearing masks, taxing cars and the chances of bringing something dodgy from Mars

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Anything dodgy on Mars?

Nothing's simple, is it? If you pay attention to official Covid-19 announcements, you'll know that the dates for MoT tests on cars have been postponed for six months. And then, if you're lucky, you get a reminder from your friendly local garage, as I did, explaining that my MoT was about to expire. How so?

It seems the MoT holiday applied only for vehicles that were due to be tested between March 30 and July 31. If your test is due from August 1 or later, it's business as usual. And if you haven't got a friendly local garage to remind you, the first you may know of all this is when your friendly local traffic cop nicks you.

Not that there's much risk of that. I drove 30 miles on a motorway last week behind a lorry carrying a road roller. The lorry's entire rear panel was missing, with no sign of any number plate. There are reckoned to be 630,000 untaxed vehicles on UK roads. No-one seems to care.

Who's wearing anti-viral masks? This is not a scientific survey but I reckon the rules are being obeyed pretty well in local shops but virtually ignored, particularly by younger male drivers, in shops attached to petrol stations. Is there an anti-mask machismo that goes with cars and petrol?

Sarah Sands, editor of Today (Radio 4), has accused the Government of “putting its feet on the windpipe” of the programme to exert power over the BBC. Or is it simply that Downing Street believes the Beeb is a hostile environment? If you doubt that, consider how the BBC's approach to the pandemic over the past few days has changed from criticism of the Government for acting too slowly to criticism of the Government for acting too quickly. When everything you do is wrong in the eyes of Auntie BBC, why would you rush to be interviewed by her?

Interesting scientific developments 1) Primitive organisms similar to microbes have been found in the deepest and most hostile ocean trenches on Earth, prompting some scientists to suggest similar life-forms may exist beneath the surface of Mars. 2) According to some experts, it is now a race between China and the United States to see which superpower can be first to bring Martian soil and rock samples to Earth.

Interesting scientific questions. 1) Can we be absolutely sure that any Martian samples will not include anything dodgy? 2) In the wake of the current pandemic, whom do you most trust to handle anything dodgy, China or the United States?

One pundit referred to the multiple Mars missions as “like the queue for Mount Everest.” One difference is that we all know how to pronounce Mars. Everest was named in 1865 after the Welsh surveyor and geographer Colonel Sir George Everest. And he pronounced his name as Eve-rest. Save this for the pub quiz, if such things ever resume.

Peter Rhodes

By Peter Rhodes

Award-winning columnist and blogger. Keeping an eye on the tribulations and trivia of a fast-changing world

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