Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Living dangerously

Am I alone in seeing the inadequacies of the revered British Health and Safety Gestapo?
I appreciate that many of their staff are doing their very best to bring joylessness to Britain. Banning carnivals from hanging banners across streets, stopping the erection of two foot deep paddling pools and advocating the chopping down of monkey puzzle trees, those survivors from an antediluvian age, since the needles might prick some one (early man was not sufficiently advanced to recognise this threat) are fine examples, but do they go far enough?
On a recent visit to that sceptr’d isle, set in the silver sea, I could not fail to spot that, as Shakespeare had pointed out, Britain is surrounded by ocean. And that, even worse, much of this is accessible to the public. Sometimes, rather than a gentle slope down to the waves, there is an appalling drop from the top of a cliff.
How on earth this has been missed by the authorities I know not, but presumably they haven’t read their Shakespeare or perhaps been on holiday in Britain lately.
As a matter of urgency, surely the entire coastline should be protected by a ten foot high breeze block wall with occasional slots for viewing purposes so the public could get a glimpse of the dangers they were being shielded from.
The publicity given to the recent cheese rolling contest must serve as a wake-up call to the Elf’nSafety people to get on their bikes (with helmets, of course) and hurry on down to stop such madness. After a few hundred years, it’s about time to do away with such heathen entertainment and get people back home where they belong in front of their television sets and with their Nintendos (having read the warnings on the instructions, of course).
My cousin, who is a writer and broadcaster in the United States, once wrote that, on unpacking some piece of newly purchased equipment, he read a warning that on no account must he put the plastic bag over his head. As he pointed out, up until then, the idea had never occurred to him.
Perhaps an embargo on the British walking the streets in a casual and haphazard fashion would cut down on many unfortunate accidents and incidents.
As the deputy Prime Minister has so ably demonstrated, it’s perfectly safe -provided one takes adequate precautions in the shape of a stab proof vest and a few accompanying police officers.
Health and Safety really need to address this by supplying such material – especially to innocent visitors.


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