Peter Rhodes on fluffed lines, a nation in debt and a new word for our age

Wonderful moment on Channel 4 News this week. A hesitant, ill-prepared Jon Snow reported on the Prime Minister fluffing his lines and losing his thread in a speech. “Pot and kettle” came to mind.

An electric vehicle charger - a status symbol?
An electric vehicle charger - a status symbol?

The Government's latest suggestion on how people can instal £15,000 heat pumps to replace gas boilers is blissfully simple. Just put it on the mortgage. In other words, buy something you can't afford, and which possibly doesn't work, and spend the next 25 years paying for it. Why is it that time after time, from student loans to going green, the first instinct of some politicians is to drive citizens into debt and siphon their hard-earned cash into the City? After the latest sleaze scandal, don't you wonder how much lobbying is going on to turn the zero-carbon campaign into a succession of paydays for the banks and moneylenders?

This tart little comment comes from one of the many online debates about what some see as the heat-pump conspiracy: “Heat pumps illustrate the first law of financial thermodynamics: money flows from poor people to rich people.”

Talking of banks, does anyone know what the latest HSBC telly ads are about? Presented by the comedian Richard Ayoade, they tell us that “physical, attitudinal and cultural borders can act as barriers to opportunity, and HSBC wants to overcome these hurdles.” For many bank customers, the biggest hurdle is losing their local branch. Despite doubling its profits, HSBC will be closing 82 branches this year.

I suspect heat pumps will feature in a health scare of the 21st century. One of the best ways to fight diseases such as Covid-19 is to live in a draughty, well-ventilated home. Yet heat pumps work best in a highly insulated setting with all the humans sharing the same fug. Try squaring that circle.

And let's not get started on Boris's pledge this week to install electric vehicle charging points in new homes. For this to work, you'll need somewhere to park your vehicle within a short cable length of your property. No problem for detached houses, but a big problem for town houses and terraces. Your access to power will determine the value of your home and social status. A new word for our age: Ampartheid.

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