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Stupidity puts lives of rescuers at risk

PUBLISHED: 10:40 04 July 2008 | UPDATED: 20:46 05 July 2010

SEA air seems to addle the brain of some numpties who arrive at the beach on a hot day and take total leave of their senses.

Their brains are left at home with their coats.

SEA air seems to addle the brain of some numpties who arrive at the beach on a hot day and take total leave of their senses.

Their brains are left at home with their coats. Which part of dangerous, high winds and don't go there don't they understand when they pump up their dinghies and egos and paddle out to sea in the face of coastguard warnings that it is unsafe?

Off they float, along comes a gust of wind or a rip tide and they're swept away, clinging on for dear life and screaming to be saved by people who put their lives on the line to keep others safe.

Or they abandon their inflatables to try to swim back to shore - if they can swim at all.

At the weekend all along our coastline people paid scant regard for coastguards' warnings to keep inflatables out of the sea winds reaching 25mph- even though just a week ago 19-year-old Norwich student Motar Abudeeb was swept out to sea in high winds off Yarmouth and is now presumed dead.

Well aware that their actions could have deadly consequences, their bravado and pig-headedness still took them out to sea, keeping coastguards and rescuers busy.

Inflatables aren't toys, they're death traps. Floating on a lilo in a Spanish swimming pool is one thing, sunning yourself and drifting off on a blow-up on the unpredictable North Sea is like lying down to sleep in a tiger enclosure.

It's time these idiots were made to pay for their stupidity before a life of a rescuer is lost.

It's illegal to ride a motorcycle on a public road without a helmet but it's perfectly legal to endanger the life of others by flying in the face of warnings and taking a flimsy blown up boat on to unpredictable open waters in rough conditions.

Ignoring serious safety warnings should be a crime. Hundreds of thousands of pounds is wasted every year launching lifeboats and paying lifeguards to put themselves at risk to save the stupid.

Those who stick two fingers up to warnings but expect to be saved when the inevitable happens. They should be prosecuted and then foot the bill for the rescue.

And why do seafront shop owners persist in selling inflatables when they know they're death traps and have no place in the sea?

My children know never to even ask for one - not even if it's tethered to the beach. And they're strong swimmers. It's not about being a killjoy - it's about saving lives. If children aren't allowed to play conkers anymore because of the danger how can letting them out to sea on a blow up bed ever be justified?

And some of these children can't even swim. I'm forever staggered by 10, 11 and 12-year-olds who can't swim. In this day and age, it's a big parenting failure and a responsibility every parent should take seriously.

It's the same old story every year but, as another young life is lost to the sea without trace, isn't it time we drew a line and outlawed inflatables once and for all?

HOW many of us felt a twinge of green-eye when Simon Usher sold his entire life on eBay for £192,000 and to start afresh?

After a nasty divorce and no children, Simon wanted out of his old life in Australia so he put his home, car, job and even friends up for sale.

Some might say he was running away but with no commitments, what a fantastic opportunity to wipe the slate clean and start again. No baggage, no mementoes of mistakes, only memories and a clean sheet ahead to fill with something new.

It feels impossible for those of us with families and responsibilities - but enviable nonetheless. To sell up, turn our backs on the stress and the worries of everyday life in Britain and pack the children on to a plane and head off for an adventure without the worries of work, school and humdrum life. Life is after all short and we only live once.

So perhaps Simon's scheme isn't so madcap after all. Where to then?

SO Mrs Liz Windsor is feeling the pinch like the rest of us in the credit crunch. But I bet she wasn't trawling Asda on Saturday though snatching up their price war 50p staples in the supermarket price wars.

But, as the rest of us are putting off home improvements to keep up with soaring electricity and food bills, hearing that the Queen hasn't painted the state rooms at Buckingham Palace and Windsor castle for more than 56 years - and can't afford to - makes us all feel a bit better.

With the electrics at the palace untouched since 1948 - a bit dodgy, don't you think? - leaky roofs, asbestos contamination and damaged guttering the odd bit of peeling paint around the shower and scuffed skirting boards feels small fry.

No wonder she scaled down her diamond-wedding anniversary plans, as she becomes Mrs Make-Do and Mend when extra funds to tackle the repairs were refused by the Government.

Slashing the £12.7m Civil List to make some of the royal hangers on go out to earn their own crust might help her make ends meet.

But don't shed to many tears. Some families are down to their last £32 at the end of the month. Her majesty is down to her last £320m.

ORGANISING children's birthday parties are such a headache.

Who to invite, who has to be invited, who children want to leave out. It's a minefield with mothers taking the hump if their child is left off the list, children ganging up on others and playground squabbles.

When the boys were younger I had sleepless nights about leaving children out and having to avoid eye contact with disgruntled mothers at the Gates Of Hell - aka the school gates - and forcing my sons to invite unpopular children because I felt sorry for them.

Just as I'm relaxing as the boys are getting older and Littl'Un's zoo party for his 9th birthday next week has seemed a breeze to organise compared to previous years, news from Sweden comes to panic every mother.

Sweden's Ombudsman has been called in to adjudicate in the case of a boy who omitted the names of two classmates for his eighth birthday - one hadn't invited him to his party and he wasn't on good terms with the other.

Teachers - wouldn't they just? - intervened saying that the rights of the excluded children had been breached. Now the nation is divided with 56pc believing the boy should invite whoever he wants while 44pc say he can't. The nation awaits the word of the Ombudsman.

Get your party invitations out quick. Surely it's just a matter of time before our Nanny Government gets in on the act and draws up legislation so you'll have to have every little girl and boy in the class to your parties, whatever your child decides.

What with expensive party bags, entertainers and more stipulations from the average eight-year-old than Coleen and Wayne at their wedding and now human rights, who'd throw a party?

HURRAH. Our last five-a-side soccer tournament at the weekend and the subject on the touchline - banning under eights from football leagues and cups because competitive shouty parents put them under too much pressure.

Tots can still play matches but results must be kept private - from the players? No league tables can be compiled and under-eights mustn't compete in knockout tournaments because the pressure is too great.

Personally, I think the children can handle winning and losing, it's the parents who can't.

On Sunday, I was watching parents' faces screaming at their children, puce and hoarse by bellowing instructions to their little Rooneys playing Chase the Ball. It wasn't football, it was more child abuse.

When done well, with the right attitude coach, mini soccer is fantastic, teaching teamwork, competition and on-pitch conduct.

When done badly, as it is so often, with aggressive coaches treating games as matters of life or death and parents shouting, it's a disaster for children's confidence and can turn them off the game for years.

So well done parents and coaches, you've now wrecked the fun for the children, watering down their game. Who is the game about, after all?

SO there I was, trying to explain to an 11 and eight-year-old the significance of Nelson Mandela and his place as one of, if not the, most influential person in modern history.

Explaining about apartheid, the anti-apartheid movement and the part Mandela played in changing the world.

So why, they asked, was his 90th birthday was being celebrated by a ropey pop concert with the likes of Geri Halliwell jumping on the bandwagon? I tell you, it felt surreal explaining it, let alone trying to understand as a child.

Amy Winehouse on the edge warbling on about her own incarcerated husband and swapping the Free Nelson Mandela words for Free Blake in the finale was a farce for us who understand. The boys were totally lost.

If he was so great, what was all this about, they asked, as bamboozled as the rest of us?

“Has anything been mentioned at school, about Mandela's 90th birthday and his importance in world history?” I asked them. Blank looks.

If only teachers could veer from the rigid national curriculum to mark major events that our children need to know about.

As I explained about how blacks lived under different laws from whites in the old South Africa and laid out how society used to be, my children were horrified.

It hit home generations of children are growing up in total ignorance of it. Education is rapidly being replaced with going to school to merely tick off “done” boxes on a teacher's list.

MADONNA soon turns 50 with rumours that her marriage is about to end.

Don't you smell a rat? For someone as secretive as Madonna appearing in public without a wedding ring - just like her husband Guy did at the weekend - is a sure-fire way to fuel speculation and get everyone talking.

Friends say Guy is organising a big 50th birthday bash for her and his mother dismisses divorce rumours as total tosh.

Is this speculation all about well-engineered PR and getting back on the front pages as she marks half a century? Ageing brings invisibility - and Madonna couldn't bear to be invisible.

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