Peter Rhodes on free tampons, deadly technology and the right time to call off a hunger strike

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

Hunger striker Richard Ratcliffe
Hunger striker Richard Ratcliffe

Headlines you never thought you'd see. The Daily Telegraph gives us: “Scotland to put tampons in male lavatories.” This will apply in the loos of government buildings for transgender employees who define themselves as male but whose bodies are still female.

What isn't explained is how non-trans men are supposed to use free tampons available in their office toilets. Why not use them as a device to protect car wiring systems from attack by rodents? Simply soak the tampon in peppermint oil and hang it inside the engine compartment. Rats and mice can't abide it. And imagine the Telegraph's headline as: “Scotland to put car accessories in male lavatories.”

A regime which routinely hangs its own citizens in public was never going to be influenced by the death by starvation of one far-off infidel. Richard Ratcliffe was right to end his hunger strike at 21 days before he did his body any serious damage. In fighting for the release of his wife, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe from Iran, he is a pragmatist, not a quitter and if you think going without food for three weeks is easy, try it.

The shortest hunger strike I ever reported involved a man with a grudge against his local council who chained himself to the town hall railings and announced he would starve himself. Later he announced he had called off his protest. “That's not a very long hunger strike,” I said. “I was famished,” he explained limply. Three hours, since you ask.

I bang on occasionally about the ludicrous amount of technology in modern cars. I can recommend a piece headlined “A tech too far” in the magazine Mercedes Enthusiast which is much better than my pieces because the writer is clearly an expert. In particular he denounces a new touch-pad system thus: “I'd go so far as to say it, and much of the tech it is controlling, is actually dangerous.” He despairs at “the amount of time eyes need to be off the road to use it.”

Is anyone else reminded of the “smart motorway” fiasco when the greatest brains told us motorways without hard shoulders were safe, even when, to the average driver, they looked lethal? Fifty deaths have so far been blamed on smart motorways. How many more deaths have been caused, or will be caused, by gizmos that take our eyes off the road?

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