Sunday, 29 March 2009
I read in today’s newspaper that the polystyrene floats used at swimming pools to help kids to learn to swim are being targetted by Health and Safety officials because (they say) they may be home to nasty bacteria and are therefore totally unhygienic.
Is it just me or is the world going crazy? Have they never heard of the idea of replacing them every so often?
The article goes on to suggest that if your child drowns as a result of not having a polystyrene float then at least you can be safe in the knowledge that it was in a hygienic environment.
I, along with many others, have considered recent health and safety guidelines to be ridiculously over the top. We can’t do anything these days, for fear of violating some weird safety protocol. I worry about wandering down my own street in case I break my leg on a cracked paving slab. I’m concerned about plugging in an electrical device unless I’ve passed an exam to do so. I’m even scared to get on my soapbox in case I should fall off and injure myself.
It never used to be this way. We could do things without worrying about our own safety. We could get involved in exciting activities without the fear of being sued. We took risks and we accepted them. Reading this article in the paper reminded me of an email I received a few years ago, regarding how things have changed over the years. I was born in 1962 so the contents of the email struck a chord. Here it is:
According to today's regulators and bureaucrats, those of us who were kids in the 60's, 70's and early 80's probably shouldn't have survived.
Our baby cots were covered with brightly coloured lead-based paint, which was promptly chewed and licked.
We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, or latches on doors or cabinets and it was fine to play with pans.
When we rode our bikes, we wore no helmets, just flip flops and fluorescent 'spokey dokey's' on our wheels.
As children we would ride in cars with no seatbelts or airbags -riding in the passenger seat was a treat.
We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle and it tasted the same.
We ate chips, bread and butter pudding and drank fizzy juice with sugar in, but we were never overweight because we were always outside playing.
We shared one drink with four friends, from one bottle or can and nbody actually died from this!
We would spend hours building go-carts out of scraps and then went top speed down the hill, only to find we forgot our brakes. After running into stinging nettles a few times, we learned to solve the problem.
We would leave home in the morning and could play all day, as long as we were back before it got dark - no one was able to reach us, and nobody minded.
We did not have Play Stations or X-Boxes, no video games at all. No 99 channels on TV, no video tape movies, no surround sound, no mobile phones, no personal computers, no DVD's & no internet chat rooms. We had friends - we went outside and found them.
We played elastics and rounders, and sometimes that really hurt!
We fell out of trees, got cut and broke bones, but there were no lawsuits!
We had full on fist fights but no prosecution followed from other parents.
We played chap-the door-run-away and were actually afraid of the owners catching us.
We walked to friends' homes.
We also, believe it or not, WALKED to school; we didn't rely on mummy or daddy to drive us to school, which was just round the corner.
We made up games with sticks and tennis balls.
We rode our bikes in packs of 7 and wore our coats by only the hood. The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of...they actually sided with the law.
I remember as a kid playing British Bulldog, a game involving around thirty kids. All kids would line up on one side of the playground (a concrete playground), apart from one who would stand in the middle facing them. The kids would then charge across to the other side of the playground, with the kid in the middle trying to capture any one of them, usually by wrestling him to the ground. The captured kid would then join the original kid and attempt to capture others on the next charge across the playground. The game would continue, with more and more kids being captured by being tackled onto the concrete until at the end there were only a handful left to charge across. The winner was the last surviving kid, or the kid who got furthest across without being leapt on by the captured kids. It was a great game. Nowadays it has been banned because it is "too dangerous".
We also played a variation of the game in the swimming pool. This game was called sharks and the idea was that the thirty kids would swim from one side of the pool to the other with one in the middle, the shark, trying to capture them by ducking them beneath the water. Once ducked, the kid became a shark and eventually there would be more sharks than kids trying to get across. Again, this was a superb game. It, too, has been banned because it is "too dangerous".
I have never seen any kids badly injured at either game, apart from a few cuts and bruises from being rugby tackled on concrete. In fact, sharks actually helped kids become stronger swimmers. Again, nobody ever drowned and every kid who played the game loved it.
Back to banning polystyrene floats – what next? Will they consider the swimming pools themselves to be unhygienic or dangerous and ban them? I think that there are far too many jobsworths in the world who have absolutely nothing better to do than make life more difficult for the population at large.
I’m adding Health and Safety to the list of things that I am targetting when I take over the world. To Health and Safety officials everywhere: Be afraid! Be very afraid!!