Shropshire Star

Peter Rhodes on clothes pegs, driverless trains and keeping an eye on our reservoirs

Something unusual happened last month. The monthly report from Nationwide revealed that UK house prices fell in October for the first time since July 2021.


So how are we supposed to react? It is a strange thing but after all these years of inflation, depression and stagflation, no-one really knows whether falling house prices is good news or bad news.

More astounding news. As a long, cold and possibly blacked-out winter approaches, figures from the Bank of England reveal a drop in demand for all sorts of borrowing. The amount of cash paid into bank accounts suddenly doubled in September. Actually, it's not all that astounding. Millions of Brits are simply channelling their inner squirrel and caching money away like a winter store of nuts. This behaviour goes by a number of names (saving, budgeting, planning ahead, living within your means, etc) and it scares the bejabbers out of the world's vast money-lending industry.

It emerged this week that HS2, the £100 billion train that nobody wants, will whizz along at 225mph with nobody at the controls. Brainless project meets driverless technology. What could possibly go wrong?

Meanwhile we are having some of those curious periods when, according to excited weather forecasters, we get a month's worth of rain in a single day. Again, it doesn't really tell us much. A more useful guide would be the average level of water in the nation's reservoirs. At the peak of this summer's drought, water levels fell dramatically. It would be good to know, after all this autumnal rain, when they are back to 50, 60 or 100 per cent full.

While most areas of technology blaze away at dazzling speed, some everyday items seem to have reached a plateau of indifference and given up trying. Take clothes pegs. I seem to recall a time when they were made of sturdy wood with reliable springs and would serve you honourably from VE-Day to Suez. Today's pegs are fiddly, feckless little items which last about a fortnight before flying to pieces in a cloud of plastic shrapnel and dropping your washing in the yard. Guess what I was doing this morning.

CARP, the Campaign for Reliable Pegs starts (and very probably ends) here.