Sunday, December 19, 2010

Progress in Health and Safety

My mother always used to enjoy chatting to families with children in the pool. As an experienced swimming teacher, she would watch the little ones swim and give them encouragement.

Now, of course, thanks to the Council's directive that no solo adult swimmers can swim at the same time as families, my mother won't be able to do that any more.

Things weren't like that in the early nineteen-fifties, when she was teaching at a secondary modern school in a deprived part of Leeds.

She was horrified to find that most of the children had never been to the Lake District. So she offered to take a group of them in the school holidays.

So off she went, just my mother and eight eleven-year-olds, to a camp site at the bottom end of Windermere.

My mother had scrounged a big tent from somewhere and they all slept in it.

Her cousin Nancy in Barrow-in-Furness was a cook and brought lots of food down. My mother enlisted various friends of hers to help as well.

They were there for a week. They played a lot of cricket and football at the camp site. They swam in Windermere, and my mother taught them how to dive. She took them walking on the fells.

These days, Health and Safety wouldn't allow any of this. But guess what, all the children were safe and nobody was hurt. They had a brilliant week and I bet that, for some of them, it was the highlight of their childhoods.

Of course, part of the reason that the children were safe was that my mother, who was born in Barrow-in-Furness, had spent much of her childhood exploring the Great Outdoors of the Lake District and therefore knew what was safe and what was not.

So my mother's gone from being in sole charge of a group of eleven-year-olds for a week to, in her eighty-seventh year, not being allowed to be in the pool at the same time as children in case she molests them in some way.

And this is supposed to be progress? Of course we need Health and Safety legislation - - - but far more than that, we need humanity, and we need common sense, and we're in danger of throwing them both into the depths of the lake.


Anonymous Ruth said...

It strikes me that two or three adult swimmers together might pose more threat to families' children than the lone predator and anyone could be more problematic than your mum.

6:51 am  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

I think you should convert this post into a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.

It might even have a salutary effect on your community.

1:51 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here, here RWP!

4:04 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home