Wednesday, May 20, 2009


On the way back from Hull yesterday I stopped in a Little Chef for something to eat (cheese omelette, chips and salad, since you ask, and it was jolly nice). On the wall there was a radiator, and there was this:

Yes, it's a tough old world, folks. Radiators may become hot. Fridges may be cold on the inside. Rivers may be full of fast-moving water. Polar bears may eat you. Trees may fall on you.

It's going to be tricky, sending people all round Africa to print DANGEROUS BEAST on the side of every lion, but that's the direction in which we're heading.

When Silverback and I were in the glorious Lake District last week, by beautiful Tarn Hows, a school party stood here and looked at this view:

One of them suddenly lay down and rolled down the hill, and all the others quickly followed, without giving it a thought. The party leader watched all this, moved a little way down the hill and then stood still till they had all finished.

Then he gathered them all round him.

"Was that fun?" he asked.

"Yes!" they all chorused.

"And had you checked that it was safe before you did it?" he asked.

No, they admitted, they hadn't.

"Well," said the leader, "on that hill there was just one large, sharp stone which would have seriously injured anyone who banged their head on it. So I went and stood by it to stop this happening. But was it my job to check, or was it yours?"

They looked a bit guilty.

Their leader went on to explain that the Lake District is not a theme park: it's fun to roll down a slope but a good idea to check before you do it that you're not going to bang your head, or roll into the lake. Some things that are fun can also be dangerous and sometimes you'll take a risk - - but when you're out on your own it's down to you to check it first, and if you don't, well, it's your responsibility.

Fine, and I totally agree. But I think that all these radiators-are-hot notices are not helping. People expect the dangers to be pre-labelled and pointed out to them. They think that if the Amazon is not labelled DANGER: VERY WIDE RIVER FULL OF THINGS THAT WILL EAT YOU, then it's going to be safe to go for a swim.


Blogger Dumdad said...

And the reason that all these silly things are labelled is that we live in a sue-'em culture: some idiot will burn his hand on the radiator and then take legal action against Little Chef. Barmy but true.

When I were a lad in Leeds, my friends and I cycled everywhere (without safety helmets), could buy fireworks (bangers were a favourite), would climb the tallest trees and there wasn't an adult in sight. I guess it was dangerous at times but it was a lot of fun.

Somehow we have to strike the right balance between fun and danger.

11:09 am  
Blogger Debby said...

Makes me want to run with scissors.

2:52 am  

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