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Killer goggles and coffee..world is mad

PUBLISHED: 10:23 03 July 2009 | UPDATED: 10:35 06 July 2010

TWO lasting memories of my happy years at a Lowestoft primary school would have the 'elf and safety man keeling over in his Hush Puppies.

The junior climbing frame - a giant metal bridge-like structure - where girls would hang upside down by their knees and boys would monkey-swing their way across was built over concrete.

TWO lasting memories of my happy years at a Lowestoft primary school would have the 'elf and safety man keeling over in his Hush Puppies.

The junior climbing frame - a giant metal bridge-like structure - where girls would hang upside down by their knees and boys would monkey-swing their way across was built over concrete.

Not an inch of soft landing bark or squidgy special flooring, just a slab of cold hard grey concrete to greet falling heads.

Well, it was the tough 1970s. Miraculously we all survived.

My other memory was being whisked to casualty at Lowestoft Hospital for stitches in my head after a bar from the PE apparatus fell off its wall holder in the school hall landing straight on my head.

Three stitches, no lasting harm - I think - and the thought of suing the school as far from our minds as the invention of mobile phones. It just wasn't an issue.

Can you imagine these scenarios today? The school would have been taken to the cleaners for the head injury by parents demanding the obligatory hefty compensation and the climbing frame would be banned as deadly and pulled down to be replaced by a nice safe picnic bench.

Those were the days when we took risks without even realising they were risks, went on numerous class trips and field trips without the sniff of a risk assessment and saw danger and fear in very little.

And we survived.

Now it's my generation - those who actually had a childhood, allowed to play outside and go out after breakfast on our Choppers and Raleigh Shoppers and stay out until tea time amusing ourselves without a care in the world - who see fear in everything and are slapping bans on anything that could, whatever the miniscule risk, cause the tiniest bit of harm.

I'm ashamed to be of the killjoy generation depriving others to think for themselves let alone take their own decisions about what might be dangerous and what is not.

Why don't they just go the whole hog and ban everything - sugar, salt, red meat, sunbathing - even being in the open air in fierce sunlight - any speed over 30mph on the roads, alcohol, fat, loud music, weapons of any kind, foreign travel?

Just a sample of new bans imposed or proposed this week read like jokes in a 1980s sitcom predicting the future, only it's no joke.

They include a group of seven pensioners banned from coffee mornings in their local library in case - and very in case - they spill hot drinks on children from a local nursery who might be in the library at the same time.

For four years the group has met at the library for a coffee. Now they have to meet at each other's homes for a cuppa. Just in case.

Then a school in Devon banned swimming goggles on advice from the British Association of Advisors and Lecturers in Physical Education (BAALPE), a pompous bunch they sound.

Its advice states: "Head teachers should inform parents and carers that goggles can be a hazard and cause permanent eye injury.

"Wet plastic is very slippery and frequent, incorrect or unnecessary adjustment or removal of them, by pulling them away from the eyes instead of sliding them over the forehead, can lead to them slipping from the pupil's grasp with the hard plastic causing severe injury."

How many people do you know maimed or even slightly injured by killer goggles? But just in case …

Then parents were told to keep children and babies indoors during the heat wave under virtual house arrest. Just in case.

Then bonkers Brussels wants to ban smoking in the open air outside pubs, offices and even at festivals like Glastonbury and Latitude. Just in case a waft gets up a no-smoker's nose.

It makes me want to run around breaking every law in the book and send my children out to discover what real life could be like without Stasi-like bans - only I'm afraid of being banned from being a parent.

MICHAEL Jackson - singer, dancer but in no way a saint.

In his hey day, a fantastic entertainer who made shedloads of money and spent shedloads of money until he had shedloads of debt.

But he also had a dubious private life that involved inviting children in to his bed. Conduct we would not tolerate from a man in his 30s who lived up the road. But, in death, this has been filed under the King of Pop's “eccentricity” as his deification gathers pace.

Jackson was neither a genius nor saint. His music fitted its time but will hardly be celebrated in coming centuries in concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, Sydney Opera House or Covent Garden - although it will probably be studied next year in a new degree in Michael Jackson Studies at the University of Cleethorpes.

He was a talented pop star with a disturbed background and screwed up mind. We should mourn his passing like anyone else who dies before his or her time but to elevate him above reality just plays to this distasteful bandwagon of public mourning.

The past week has encapsulated our disturbing vacuous celebrity culture where “fans” will weep for someone they didn't know but ignore their dying next-door-neighbour. Enough.

THE Queen might desire to keep her diamond jubilee celebrations separate from the “flashy” Olympics but, as her people struggle with redundancy, repossession and debt, Britain's richest woman is asking for more money from the public purse.

The Palace is asking for extra cash for the Civil List when cuts are expected in many areas of government expenditure and our national debt could quadruple in the next 40 years.

Uncomfortably for her the request comes when the full extent of her family's luxury travel is exposed. Two tours by Prince Charles to South America, Japan, Brunei and Indonesia last year cost us £700,000 each in travel bills and a £26,762 bill for a trip to Yorkshire by the royal train.

The Queen should look at her children, grandchildren, extended family, their lifestyles and the money paid from the public purse to trail them round the world on their jaunts and into the early hours in nightclubs and wonder if we're getting value for money.

Especially as we learn that we have just paid £250,000 to do up Princess Beatrice's university digs - for someone who doesn't even carry out official duties and is followed by an army of bodyguards at our expense.

We must remember that when we scrape together our tax bills at the end of the month.

I'VE never met anyone who's looked at Beth Ditto and thought - “I must eat all the pies.”

Or watched cuddly James Corden or Ruth Jones on Gavin and Stacey and scoff 20 cream buns.

No one's ever looked at them surely and thought: “I must look like them.”

We do however look at portly celebrities and think: “It makes a change from rake thin stars. How great they're confident and happy in their own skin. Good on them.”

But corpulent celebrities are terrible role models, according to a doctor, encouraging others to believe they can be fat and successful - as if that's not allowed- and stand accused of fuelling the obesity epidemic.

Codswallop.

On that basis, art galleries across the world should be cleared of all Rubens' work with his well-upholstered models, Beryl Cook's pictures burned, Humpty Dumpty banned and we should all begin every day paying homage to Victoria Beckham.

Yes, experts have gone that mad, folks.

OF course MPs should have second jobs - not sitting on boards and acting as dubious “consultants” but proper get down and dirty jobs with the people they purport to represent.

Many did, of course, in previous lives before they went into politics.

But the career politicians who have known nothing but student and party politics and never had a full day's graft in the real world need to get out there and live a bit.

Labour's candidate for Ian Gibson's old seat in Norwich North is just 28. Youth counts for a lot but not nearly as much as experience.

AND the gold medal for wasting time goes to the Department of Work and Pensions that sent out thousands of bogus job applications with false identities to businesses in an effort to expose racism.

They sent off two or more applications for 1,000 job vacancies signing them with a traditional British name or one of an ethnic minority to see how many were successful.

Why the need for false applications. All they needed to do was ask the hundreds of thousands of people from ethnic minorities who apply for dozens of jobs a month only to be turned down because of their ethnic background not what they can do.

Perhaps they're frightened of discovering the real truth in our so-called multi-cultural Britain that celebrates diversity and equality.

YOU'D think that after 66 years of childlessness and being on her own, single mother Elizabeth Adeney would relish being a full-time mum to her newborn son Jolyon.

With her own successful business, surely she could afford to take time off to spend every precious moment with him. After all, she hasn't got a lifetime left.

But, after just four weeks, she has returned to work for a few hours a day leaving her son with a live-in nanny.

She is a woman used to getting what she wants. IVF at pensionable age and now the baby who, like her business, is expected to slot into the time she gives him.

But it's not about her getting what she wants now - it's about Jolyon getting what he needs. And obviously accepting that will be a struggle for this selfish woman.

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