If there’s one thing that is certain in life, if there’s money to me made in something, then people will stop at nothing to exploit it – regardless of the severe damage that could result in it.

That was true for generations with the hugely lucrative tobacco industry, which made billions out of the manufacture and sale of tobacco products, and which led to countless deaths. For years the “industry” did their utmost to pretend that tobacco smoking was not harmful. Politicians also claimed smoking was beneficial – I wonder how many of those wonderful people had shares in the tobacco industry?

Now we have a new curse in the shape of vaping, which has resulted in an epidemic among schoolchildren and teenagers. Billions are now being made in the manufacture and sale of the now “wonder product” which those who are making mega bucks pretend are benefiting society by helping people to quit tobacco smoking.

Dr Mike McKean, vice-president of policy for the Royal College of Paediatricians and Child Health, said vaping was becoming an “epidemic” among teenagers even though it is illegal before the age of 18. If its rapid growth maintains the same trajectory, almost all children will vape within five years, he said.

He estimated that prevalence could now be as high as 15%, after NHS figures for 2021 showed that 9% of 11- to 15-year-old children used e-cigarettes, up from 6% in 2018, and a figure which rises to 18% for 15-year-olds.

“This is a problem the UK should take seriously. Walk past a school at closing time and you’ll see what happens – large numbers of children vaping,” he said.

It’s sickening that manufacturers would conjure up ways of making their obnoxious products even more appealing by introducing different flavours and colours, knowing full well that this would appeal to ever younger children.

I was horrified to watch a TV interview of a pre-teenage girl who was so addicted to vaping she smoked so many she has permanently damaged her lungs and had to be put into an induced coma to aid her recovery.

How long has it got to be before people will put the well-being of the human race before the addiction of making more and more money? The government is talking about tighter regulation of the vaping industry – but I wouldn’t hold your breath on this one – if money doesn’t win it will be a first!



You have to have the patience of Job to drive on British roads right now.

Recently Mrs M and I had the dubious pleasure of travelling to Manchester on the UK’s wonderful roads. It was a nightmare, both going and returning.

The first problem was on a dual carriageway A road where two park homes were being taken on low loaders in convoy, with an escort vehicle behind not allowing anyone to pass.

Now OK, perhaps it was reasonable to prevent overtaking, but we passed countless parking lay-bys on the 25 miles we travelled behind these wretched lorries and not once did the drivers have the courtesy to pull in and allow the miles long queue behind to pass.

The M6 around Birmingham was a joke. Firstly, we had signs telling us to reduce speed to 60pm. Then 50mph and then 40mph with no apparent reason. Then we were directed to quit the outside lane, and then the middle lane, restricting us to one lane, with the hard shoulder not to be used sign. After a few miles of this and a growing number of motorists deciding to ignore the signs altogether, all the restrictions disappeared all at the same time from the overhead gantries.

Are the people in the control room somewhere just taking ‘extracting the urine’, perhaps seeing how much they can frustrate motorists? Coming back on the same A6 around Birmingham we had an even bigger load of nonsense. Down came the speed to 60mph, again for no apparent reason, and then a notice came up to cut to 50mph to reduce air pollution! Can any environmental crackpot explain to me how changing gear from 6th to 5th to cut speed can do anything other than increase pollution?

Perhaps we should have used the toll road instead – but that would have cost £8.60 each way! Milking the motorist or what? And if there is this demand to cut pollution, would it not make far more sense to make the toll road free and stop all the traffic jams which must be creating dirty air?

These motorways are in a sorry state. White lines have not been repainted for ages, and there are many signs so filthy they can hardly be read. And there are several where the plastic cover is peeling off so again, they can no longer be read.

It took 5.5 hours to get from the south to Manchester, a distance of 260 miles. On the continent, with far better roads and less traffic, it would have taken less than four hours.



It’s not just British roads which are in a sorry state, it’s British society too.

I was sickened to watch a TV news item showing people actually boasting about how much they were managing to steal from shops every day, without hindrance from police.

Woman after woman shoplifter boasted how easy it was to shoplift, and one had the utter cheek to blame the police for not catching her.

This is what she said: When people shoplift, they [police] should start putting pictures of the shoplifters on the internet, maybe on the front doors so people can see ‘warning’, you know, ‘shoplifter’. I don’t think police quite do their job properly.”

One UK police force says shoplifting offences have soared by 36% in one year alone, and the trade says shoplifting is costing shops almost £1bn a year. That has to be paid for by higher prices in the shops.

I’m going to say something highly controversial now, but I think shoplifters should be publicly birched. If that happened shoplifting would be cut drastically. Offenders know the chances of being caught are near zero and punishments are a joke.

And those horrible teenagers who cut down the ancient sycamore tree growing beside Hadrian’s Wall should suffer the same fate. People had far more respect for the law when there was corporal punishment. When judges are told not to send criminals to jail because they are full, then a damn good public birching would be great alternative punishment and far more cost effective too.

On the subject of that tree, I found a picture of a superb sculpture of an arm and hand made from a tree struck by lightning in Wales (pictured). Perhaps such a sculptor could be engaged to create similar sculptures from the wood of the felled tree close to the spot where the sycamore once stood.