Peter Rhodes on the joy of maths, a popular ford and how to get to hospital without an ambulance

How things ought to be. Article One of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

Fastest way to A&E?
Fastest way to A&E?

How things really are. New research shows that more than 1,100 babies who are dependent on substances caused by the mother's drug-taking have been born in Scotland since 2017. Hooked before they're even hatched. Weep for the poor mites.

In a world largely run by arts graduates, it is good to have our prime minister singing the praises of maths lessons for all pupils to the age of 18. With one caveat. It must be the right sort of maths; the useful sort. To avoid being robbed in this wicked world, it is essential for ordinary folk to understand percentages and probability. But some aspects of maths, such as algebra and geometry, are less useful. There was a time when I knew the formula for calculating the surface area of a truncated stellated dodecahedron. It did not make me a better person.

It is reported that some GPs are advising heart attack victims to take a bus to hospital rather than wait for an ambulance. And if that fails, you could always put yourself in a large box covered in postage stamps and, well, you get the idea.

As the name suggests, the Nottinghamshire village of Rufford has a ford. Now, thanks to chatter on social media, this placid little crossing has become world famous, with hordes of folk turning up either to attempt to drive through the ford or to watch the fun as others try. The area got so crowded that police have now closed the ford. “Drivers don’t realise how deep it is and suddenly their car starts floating,” chortled one local.

I live near a ford. I can testify to the unbridled faith some clots have in their cars and their driving skills. A common mistake is to rev up and hit the ford as fast as possible in the belief that your vehicle will carve the waves asunder, Moses-fashion. What actually happens is that your car floats a bit, and then sinks. People laugh. You may burst into tears.

Beware, too, of small boys standing ankle-deep in the water and beckoning motorists to have a go. They are actually standing on milk crates.

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