Peter Rhodes on collapsing car parks, royal inspirations and the curse of the double dipper

Bizarre, isn't it to see Prince Harry claiming his latest venture, a series of high-profile interviews called Live to Lead, was “inspired by Nelson Mandela.” I can't see these random promotions dressed up as inspirations catching on, can you?

The Wolverhampton car park collapse, 1997
The Wolverhampton car park collapse, 1997

Last week's passing reference to that curious item, the pickle fork, brings a burst of appreciation from a long-term pickle-fork enthusiast who declares they are “essential for chasing the last pickle around a deep jar whilst keeping one's fingers clear of the vinegar.”

Well, quite. But the menace goes deeper than vinegary fingers, doesn't it? The enemy to be kept at bay this and every Yuletide is that unspeakable party guest who not only trails his fork from pickles to mustard but actually puts it in his mouth before plunging it into the jar of gherkins you were approaching. Watch out, watch out – there's a double-dipper about.

The British Parking Association (no, me neither) warns that electric vehicles, being up to twice as heavy as normal cars, could cause “catastrophic” damage to multi-storey car parks, and even make them collapse. Don't you find yourself wondering: “Didn't anyone think about this until now?”

You may believe multi-storeys are indestructible. They are not. Indeed, some of us may remember the heart-stopping drama of the Great Wolverhampton Multi-Storey Disaster of March 1997 when a 120-ton section of the Pipers Row car park collapsed. Thankfully it happened at night and no-one was injured. If that slab had broken free during the rush hour, the car park would have been a multi-decker human meat sandwich. After the latest report, how many car parks are being assessed to see how they can cope with a full load of electric vehicles weighing up to two tons each? And what about Britain's bridges? It's a fat lot of good if your clean, green electric car produces no emissions but brings structures crashing down.

And talking of crashing down, the quest goes on to discover what caused the spectacular burst in a massive aquarium, containing 1,500 fish, in the foyer of a Berlin hotel. Police say they are not looking for any suspects. So what did trigger it? Act of cod?

This column was inspired by Mother Teresa.

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