Peter Rhodes on the death of motoring terms and the outlook for Vladimir Putin

Our changing language. A study by an online car retailer suggests that words associated with petrol-powered vehicles will vanish as electric cars take over. Expect to bid farewell to “gas guzzler,” “petrol station” and “take your foot off the gas.”

A bloody ending?
A bloody ending?

Time will tell. But it's a fact that some words have a tendency to stick around long after the things that inspired them have vanished. We still use a tight rein, get the bit between our teeth and spur on each other, all expressions from horse-drawn days. Falconry in its mediaeval heyday gave us fed up, fell swoop, codgers and cadging. And even in this smartphone age we still refer to dialling a number, although dials have long gone.

This all makes me think that even when electric cars have totally replaced petrol and diesel-powered vehicles, passengers will probably still urge slow drivers to step on the gas - and don't spare the horses.

I suspect something may have been lost in the translation of a statement by Ukraine's head of military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov on the subject of a successor to Russia's President Putin. Budanov reckons the transition might be bloody because that's what usually happens to dictators or, as he is quoted: “In most cases, they died against their will.” Hang on. Isn't that how most of us die?

In a fine article, the former pensions minister Baroness Altmann says the elderly are being excluded from all manner of services from car parking and banking to GP appointments because they are either unable or unwilling to embrace digital technology with all its apps. These people need and deserve human contact but, as she puts it, “all too often the first point of contact is an automated telephone system designed to make it as difficult as possible to speak to an actual person.”

She's right. How was it allowed to happen? And who in Parliament is standing up against the encroaching business philosophy that says if you can't use a smartphone, you're of no interest to them?

Small delay in finishing this column, caused by my grandson, two, who enlivened the afternoon by putting two sticks of rhubarb behind a radiator. Is there any domestic crisis that cannot be solved with a wire coathanger?

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