Shropshire Star

Peter Rhodes on banking, boating and planning for two world wars

HSBC has enough money to take over the Silicon Valley Bank but not enough money to keep my local branch open. So I now appear to be an unwilling shareholder in a failing bank in California and I can't even complain in person without getting the car out.

Photo: PA Wire

Meanwhile, before the fighting in Ukraine has reached a decisive point and with Putin still threatening the nuclear option, Britain, Australia and the USA have signed the Aukus defence treaty. China responds by accusing the three nations of a Cold War mentality while itself constructing a formidable nuclear-armed submarine fleet and planning for the invasion of Taiwan.

In the old days we used to have one World War at a time. Today, before the Third World War has kicked off in Ukraine, the Fourth World War is already taking shape in the South China Sea. Maybe it makes some sort of sense to the bean-counters. Two Armageddons: no queuing.

I'm not a great believer in conspiracy theories but I could be persuaded there is a dark, global plan to make everyone buy a smartphone. At present in the UK, a stubborn 18 per cent of over-50s do not own one. So how might they be forced to toe the smartphone line?

One idea might be to increase parking fines and then scrap meters which accept cash or card payments, replacing them with smartphone apps. Suddenly, as thousands of motorists have discovered recently, it is virtually impossible to park in some areas without a smartphone. When public bodies effectively promote the products of private companies, alarm bells ring.

For the first time in almost 20 years I am boatless, having just sold one boat with no successor in sight. There's a boat-sized space on the drive where a boat should be. I am a great believer in drive-sailing although some people take it to extremes. I recall one reader who called to complain that the magnificent Norfolk Broads cruiser on his neighbours' drive had been parked for so long that it now appeared on Google Earth. So how long had it been there? “Seventeen years,” he said glumly. I suspect this is not a record.