Thursday, June 07, 2007

If You're From Health & Safety, Look Away Now...

Those of us who are of a certain age will relate to THIS brilliant article by Alice Thomson in the Daily Telegraph. It's headlined BE A BAD PARENT AND LET YOUR CHILDREN OUT. Alice catalogues all the things she was allowed to do as a child which she would be castigated for allowing her own children to do today.

It struck a chord with me as I remembered my own rather idyllic childhood, growing up in a small rural community on a farm in Essex. I suspect my parents would have been arrested virtually every day for allowing us to do the things which seemed perfectly natural at the time. I was driving a combine harvester at the age of 9. My father would think nothing of allowing a dozen of the village children climb aboard his tractor and trailer stacked with hay bales and driving along the road with them clinging on for dear life. My sisters and I would disappear for hours at a time exploring the local woods. I worked on the farm from a very young age. I operated dangerous equipment. I mucked out the pigs. I set fields of stubble on fire. My friends spent hours on the farm without their parents worrying a jot about where they were or what they were doing. I walked home very day from primary school on my own or with my younger sisters. None of these things would be possible today. It makes you think.
* The picture is admittedly not of my childhood - it's from 1983, whenI was 21, but it's a favourite one of me with my Dad.


Ordovicius said...

Quite. My mother would practically throw us out of the house during the summer hols.

Anonymous said...

Great T-shirt!

Manfarang said...

I seem to remember it was made illegal for a kid to ride on a tractor in the late 1950s after a series of accidents where the kids got hurt.

Susanne said...

Brings back memories. As a child I was never in the house. My bike took me to places I'd never dream of cycling to these days

tapestry said...

I was diagnosed recently as suffering from a weakened nervous system, giving heart problems, stomach problems plus plus plus. When they dug down, they found it was caused by dichlorobenzene, of which I had a highly elevated level.

The only place I could have got it was from my father's farm fifty years ago, and it's still inside me after all this time. He used insecticide in the cow shed. That's what the place smelt of.

He's had Parkinsons for 15 years. My brother's had poor energy since aged 19. Now it's my turn.

Many of our friends have died young from either cancer, heart trouble and even suicides. I wonder if the sprays have done for thousands on the quiet, but it's all kept quiet by government, the big companies etc as no one wants to carry the responsibility.

Otherwise it was idyllic, and we were free to roam.

Fortunately I've found a hospital which has ways to remove the chemical from my body, and I'm gradually recovering. They say it will be at least two years of treatment. There's no way you could do this on the NHS, as it costs thousands per patient.

All the NHS ever told me was there's nothing wrong and I must be depressed. It's that quango - NICE - National Institute For Clinical Excellence - which makes sure doctors are not allowed to investigate anything that's not on their list of allowable illnesses (er expenses).

sorry - i wandered off topic. you see i still feel free to roam - just like we could do then!

Observer said...

I supppose it's Cider With Rosie or H E Bates land of a different England.

It was bound to happen once everything became corporatist and centralised. England had developed as a bottom-up society with squire and his sponsorship of the local church.

The world wars led to more national policymaking and they simply never gave up. The point is Iain like many of us you were born at the fag-end of Olde England before the homogenizers took control to standardise everything and everyone.

It started in the 1970s with Grocer Heath and his local government reorganisation so you no longer knew your council or your councillor and he became part of some distant political machine loyal to party.

Heath was the Great Commissar who seemed to despise England and want to make it something else.

Newmania said...

I cut down trees. I skip and jump.
I like to press wild flowers.
I put on women's clothing
And hang around in bars.

I cut down trees. I wear high heels,
Suspendies, and a bra.
I wish I'd been a girlie,
Just like my dear Papa

Don`t know why it just popped into my head. One of the things I am always banging on about is how centralising systems are useless at accommodating risk which is a far more complex thing than we might imagine . Speed cameras have not cut accidents , smoking banns similarly have not cut smoking and yet we accept there continuation , the congestion charge has not cut congestion. I think my favourite was the Torquay Councillor who insisted their endearingly optimistic Palms were chopped down . He admitted they had been attractive but said “ Its like a tiger , it s nice to look at but you wouldn`t want it on the street”…a tiger ? 3000 people turned out in Devon I think to watch a video on a screen of a bonfire.
A breed of insanity. This avoidance of risk is making us all into big babies , there’s a really funny book our called just that at the moment and it comments how in every way from sexual relations to serving suggestions we have ceased to be adults at all.

Of course any baby knows the answer to anyhting is "WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA some body DOOOOOOOOO SOMTHING"

Anonymous said...

But you turned out to be a tory.

english democrat said...

Dear Newmania,

As the humber of smokers has fallen over 30yrs supposed smoking related diseases have increased when it should be the other way round! Why should this be? The antismoking lobby knew this a while ago and it was, Er, inconvenient for their case so they came up with "passive smoking" to fill the scientific evidence gap! only now that little white lie is now falling down! Who knows what "evidence" the lobbies will come up with next.

Theo Spark said...

Happy days! I miss stubble burning, the insurance companies don't!!! Sadly my childhood best friend fell into a grain silo and was killed when he was only 11. There again it was an accident and they happen, a sad reality of life.

Anonymous said...

Theo Spark said...

Happy days! I miss stubble burning, the insurance companies don't!!! Sadly my childhood best friend fell into a grain silo and was killed when he was only 11. There again it was an accident and they happen, a sad reality of life.

June 07, 2007 7:58 AM

Another ex-farmer here. I had the same childhood memories as Iain and Theo but sadly out of my last year at primary school of 12 boys only six are still alive. Five died in farm accidents and one died in a car crash - all before they reached 25 years old.

I will not even allow my kids outside the house when I mow the lawn now and they have never been outside the confines of my home without constant adult supervision. The problem is the car. Roads are far too busy and fast for kids to handle alone.

Ordovicius said...

As a child I was never in the house. My bike took me to places I'd never dream of cycling to these days

Same here, those places being mainly wet ploughed fields in Norfolk.

Anonymous said...

That's amazing - if someone asked me what Iain Dale must have been like in his youth, I'd have said "you know the guy was wearing an I heart Maggie t-shirt"... and you actually were. Priceless!

Anonymous said...

Nostalgia ain't what it used to be.


Charlotte Corday said...

Yes, but the same people who are nostalgic for the days when they and their friends could roam around the place, now complain about gangs of "feral" children blighting their neighbourhood.
I'm sure you were a delightful child and never indulged in arson (despite the pic) or any illicit activities. However, many children are easily tempted into wrong-doing. The devil makes work for idle hands and all that...

Hughes Views said...

Thing is - no one seemed to bother too much if kids got killed or badly injured back in the fifties and sixties. Fortunately we've moved on a bit since then but probably the pendulum has swung too far the other way and many worried parents are too over protective. Partly the media's fault for making such a huge issue out of rare horrors.

A pity they don't make more fuss about the 8 or 9 people killed on British roads every day...

judith said...

Gawd, you've pressed some memory buttons here - Hackney in the late 40's, I was 4 or 5 and allowed to go out on the streets alone, toddled in and out of shops, but then everyone knew who I was, who my parents were, and who my grandparents were.

As a 10yrs old, I walked around local parks and the Hackney Marshes quite alone, and yet I'm still here safe and sound.

Matthew Dear said...

I remember myself and a friend digging out a "base" next to the tiny lane in Norfolk where I lived.

When we extended this base under the entire width of the road, I'm sure there was a strong possibility that one of the (many) passing tractors might have caved it in and killed us... But it never happened...

By the age of 11, I was regularly spending every day of the holidays cycling round-trips of up to 40 miles into the depths of Thetford Forest and back, usually alone. Now, however, I've realised it's true - I live opposite a beautiful park and don't even let me kids go there unless I'm outside watching their every move. How sad.

a luddite said...

'...My bike took me to places I'd never dream of cycling to these days...'

An uncle recently told me that, as a schoolboy, he had cycled from his school in Bath with some friends to Essex (where one of them lived) and then on to Yorkshire (where he lived). This was in the 1930s. They slept in a tent in fields along the way. On one occasion, in Suffolk, a local bobby woke them and asked where they had come from. He knew their school and bade them farewell - nowadays, he'd probably arrive mob-handed and call in support from dog handlers and a helicopter!

achilles said...

As pointed out in yesterday's Times, child abduction is incredibly rare (one in a 100 million?) yet seems to be feared constantly today. Parents and kids get into a car without a moment's thought though, which could potentially kill or seriously injure them.

BTW, who is the hunk in the jeans?

a luddite said...

I should have mentioned that at the time there was concern about Nazi fifth columnists landing in East Anglia and that is why the constable woke my uncle and his friends, ie to check their accents. Otherwise I am sure he would not have disturbed their sleep.

BOF2BS said...

Haystacks are such easy targets!

I also recall that a certain weedkiller had some alternative uses.

Happy days but don't tell the children!!

Newmania said...

And while I`m on the subject of everyone turning into a big baby what about that .( Grrrrr Iain I do miss the expletive here).. Witch from the North ; Caroline Frumpy Flint . I partly blame Iain here because I am pretty sure she went to the same nest of virulent Liberalism that he failed to inoculate in east Anglia where she did six PHD`s in being a bossy busybodying horses arse Now she want to put . “Don`t drink this it will make you drunk and kill unborn babies and generally bring about an apocalypse on wine bottles”. Words fail me……….momentarily.
Edwina Currie who gave a jaw dropping interview with Herr Dale last night was saying how useless the Blair babes were and Caroline is the most photogenic dimbo bimbo of all. You will recall she was the one who got all shirty about being discussed in sexist terms on Web Cameron. (Translation : some people were having a bit of fun with who is the cutest MP) Do you know that the Don valley constituency she holds was held by an unbroken line of local male Union members until this vile Nursey Nursey Nazi turned up with her fake qualification in social something or other. What a cow and how typical of the New labour spiritual sickness
Well relax Caroline Flint whilst I may in the past have expressed a gentlemanly and virtuous desire to have hot dirty sex with you , my ardour is terminally quenched . There comes a point where matters of principle must intervene with even the basest of urges


PS Sorry to hear of your troubles Tapestry , chin up.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of I heart Maggie - don't forget to watch Andrew Marr's history programme next Tuesday when he reaches the eighties and examines the lady's rise (you can fool some of the people some of the time) and fall. Let's hope he covers the outbreak of almost universal joy and dancing in the streets that greeted the latter...

Rachel said...

We do appear to be raising a rapunzel generation.

BTW Iain are you burning the roof of a peasants house in that picture?

The Remittance Man said...

Anon 8:14.

Sorry to sound snarky here but of those 6 pals, how many died when they were over the age of 18?

I believe that statistically the 18 - 25 age bracket is the most dangerous for men. It's generally when we are the most free from responsibility and most likely to consider ourselves "bullet proof". Booze and fast cars are also fun novelties.

Any death of a freind is a tragey but to describe 18-25 year olds as children is stretching the limit a tad.

BTW. Iain, if that picture had been taken 20 years later the headlines would read "Irresponsible farmers put children at risk and makes cause global warming" the sub-title would be something along the lines of "Government called upon to act immediately".

How sad.

Newmania said...

Remittance man -

The government would like us to live and work until we are 150 but never be more thna a child.

a luddite said...

This from today's Daily Mail - 'Race riots could erupt in rural towns and villages with large numbers of Eastern European immigrants, a Government report will warn.' My, how times have changed!

Anonymous said...

three cheers for Alice Thompson !!!

We need the courage to have 'organic free range' children again - 'battery reared' just doesn't taste the same !

The motor car is the real killer in any case...

Anonymous said...

Observer said... 6:43 AM

"Heath was the Great Commissar who seemed to despise England and want to make it something else."

Yep Observer, you summarised Heath beautifully. We have to wait now and see how his latest successor (Blair) is going to sell us further down the river in the EU.

David Anthony said...

So that's how you lost your hairline

Do you still have that T-Shirt?

canvas said...

Newmania - Caroline Flint is anti-fun. She is puritanically pious and needs to relax a little.

Iain - Uttlesford is a 'dangerous' place to be nowadays - especially since the Tories decided to switch off the street lights at night to save money (under the guise of being 'green'). You are lucky to be out of there!
:) LoL

Peter said...

It really is a shame - i remember travelling the countryside on various buses in my mid-teens; parties at a friend's farm with tunnels made out of a large stack of hay bales.

I think that stranger danger has been overplayed (I am a father and am guilty of this as well!). was brought up to be careful of strangers. Now children seem to be told that all strangers are danger and does also mean that people (especially men) are scared of anything to do with children.

Last year my five year old didnt look where he was walking and wondered up to someone else, thinking it was me, and went to hold his hand. The man jumped; my son couldnt stop crying and screaming - all over an innocent mistake. What are we doing to our children?

Is the message that we really want our children to grow-up with: Children step outside of your back garden and you will be kidnaped and never seen your parents again. If you go into the countryside you will fall into a brook and be washed away.

Sad state of affairs.

bebopper said...

Hi Judith! You weren't from the Kingsmead Estate were you?
The Hackney Marshes were a great playground. I'm just a bit older than you and my ramblings were sometimes cut short, when we had to run to the nearest air raid shelter.We used to bunk into The Castle and watch the whole programme twice, only to emerge, with a king size headache to go home for bread and marge. Our parents hadn't a clue where we were.

A sobering thought: You've more chance of being killed, injured, or robbed in Hackney now than during the blitz.

Chris Paul said...

It's not impossible though is it Iain?

People have been driven to be more and more afraid not by government but by over-egged (by the Mail etc) stranger danger and so on.

Lots of comments here about the death rate in farm accidents. Not exactly golden days on that front.

We don't live on a farm but my kids have a reasonable right to roam. Though they sometimes seem to have less wanderlust.

When I was a kid we roamed far and wide it's true.

Regular days out as a couple of ten year olds fishing on the Thames, playing on the railway lines, all sorts.

But then again the TV wasn't up to much was it? And there were no blogs, no MSN and no my-face-second-space-book etc.

Anonymous said...

The strangers we were brought up to be careful of were lacking in numbers and indeed in strangeness.

Todays heightened fear of strangers comes from the fact that they are far stranger and amongst us in far greater numbers.

hatfield girl said...

'Where are you going?' 'Out', 'None of those caffs!' 'Course not'.

The Busy Bee, an Enfield, the A41 and thou... (all that wind, no helmets spoil the flying hair, the black jeans, the bliss to be lent The Jacket and told 'hang on' )... Hang on? why did I ever let go?

The Hitch said...

I collect shooting books, ome of my collection (stolen) was an anthology of sporting adventures , I will never forget reading the accounts of a chap who jacked in his public school and set of to cross america on his own , he was 14!
He also had his parents blessing , this was in the nineteenth century.

Newmania said...

As usual Chris Paul you are looking through the wrong end of the telescope. It is sodding New labour that have banned smoking in effect, it is silly nanny New labour that wish to put labels on wine to tell us that is had dangerous alcohol in it . It is putrid New Labour that have presided on criminalising driving and loathsome New labour that , for example , require all employees to be aware of the slipping danger of safety pins. The Mail and its predecessors having been selling crime horror stories since the Victorian period at least. The understandable fear of the old about the hoardes of fatherless ferals swarming work free estates is also the fault of labours disastrous Benefits Policy.

Perhaps you will be pleased when the population is changed from being adults into mewing babies over fed on tasteless goo ( Camembert is also about to be banned).
While there might be other cultural factors at work New Labour are the arch enemy of freedom and the arch enemy of culture and indeed life itself . In between talking about politics you have moments when you appear almost a lucid human being is there really nor part of you that is conscious of the daily vandalism to our country your Party and its wider constituency of Social Workers Teachers and Bureaucrats and benefits collectors does.
It is the stated aim of this government, now , to make drinking as unacceptable as smoking . Here we go again ……..When do we make a stand against this vermin gnawing at our country every day and night .How can you defend this desecration of the human spirit ? I have begun to wonder quite seriously if it is a breed of mass insantity.

Labour Coucils have banned everything from Palm trees to Irish Jokes to the use of the word phrase politically correct pocelain pigs ( they offend Muslims). Where does the arrogance come from ? How could any sane person actually approve ?

Lilith said...

My daughter's friends don't do public transport. At 15/16 years old they are too scared to catch a train or a bus.

At 8 my girl elected to walk to school alone. Pleased to see some burgeoning independence I acceded, only to have the headmistress call me and tell me that they couldn't have children walking unaccompanied to the school (in case) they were kidnapped. I suggested that the headmistress tell my daughter her reasons why she couldn't walk alone to school.

....My girl quoted the headmistress

"We can't have you walking to school, because Year 4 girls are like sheep, and they will all want to do it!"

The Hitch said...

Mr mania all these idea come from upon high , and i dont mean the likes of blair or brown , they are merely the puppets of the truly evil elite who intend to cull us and eithr have us working the firlds or living in city states under 24 hour observation.
They use the corrup and useful idiots to do there bidding.
I know chri paul is an idiot I doubt that he is in anyway useful.

Newmania said...

HITCH-Oddly I was speculating along the similiar lines today. Looking at the sleek bovine bloated child people we are becoming. I would not be suprised to find aliens soon amongst us armed with cook books.

The Day of the "Feasting " will soon be upon us

neil craig said...

Even in terms of safety we are probably doing more harm than good. There is considerable reason to believe that the increase in asthma & other diseases related to the immune system is because we don't allow children to play in mud & thus switch their immune system on.

In the same way that a banker who never has any loans that go bad is a failure because he is not being adventurous enough, a society where nobody ever has acidents is failing to live up to its potential. Far more people died reaching the South Pole than the Moon but which is really the more important?

Anonymous said...

canvas said:

Uttlesford is a dangerous place to be nowadays

It might seem dangerous to the rich champagne socialists of Saffron Walden, canvas, but the dangers there are barely perceptible in relation to those of so many other parts of UK.

Try living in North London, where the likelihood of being shot, stabbed or raped hugely outweigh the risk of SW:)

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10.57am
"Todays heightened fear of strangers comes from the fact that they are far stranger and amongst us in far greater numbers."

Care to back that up with some evidence?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10.57 AM

"Strangers...are far stranger and amongst us in far greater numbers"

Unless you mean Broon and nulab, who are indeed very strange and threatening, then I can't agree.

What was it Ogden Nash said?

Broon and nulab excepted

One would be less in danger

From the wiles of a stranger

If one's own kin and kith were less dangerous to be with.

Most crimes against children (and maybe adults too?) are committed by their family or friends

Anonymous said...

'Most crimes against children (and maybe adults too?) are committed by their family or friends'

1) Most crimes against children are committed by teenage gangs.

2) Despite ever greater vigilance by parents, there are still numerous attacks by paedophile strangers. These people are determined and (courtesy of the internet) highly motivated. There is good reason to think that their numbers are growing (again, spurred on by internet pornography).

Anonymous said...

Just had a look at the HSE website - Last year there were 45 reported deaths on farms.
6 were children - 3 of them were family members aged 5 or below, 2 youths died in a barn fire, whilst playing inside the barn and a farmer’s son ingested Phostoxin. This is the highest recorded number of child deaths in the last eight-years and is 4 higher than the average of the past five years."

canvas said...

"Anonymous said...
canvas said:
Uttlesford is a dangerous place to be nowadays"

Dear Anon,
I think you will find my comment was tongue in cheek? There is no need to sound so bitter and twisted. Unless, of course, you are Colleen from Old Harlow who doesn't haven't a sense of humour...

PS> I lived in central London for 18 years - I understand what a dangerous environment is.

canvas said...

colleen from old harlow doesn't have a sense of humour.

hate the NO EDIT option...

Adrian Yalland said...

I had an interesting discussion with my mother in law today, just returned from a school trip (she is a teacher) to Rustington. She was told by a local to 'keep an eye on the kids' as apparently lots of child sex offenders live in Sussex!

My mother in law went on to complain about all the hysteria surrounding children, and how parents were terrified to allow kids to be kids for fear of something nasty happening to them.

I agree with her. I am a dad of two kids, and I worry far more about them getting run over by a cyclist using the pavement as a bike lane than them being kidnapped!

I am not saying there are not sick people out there - but simply in the age of 24 hour media and mass hysteria whipped up by the press for 'good copy', we have lost the real perspective on this issue!

Adrian Yalland said...

PS - we shouldn't be surprised! The Social Workers took over in 1997!

Anonymous said...


The local that your mother-in-law spoke to may have been better informed than you suppose.

Convicted child sex offenders cannot just live where they want, they are housed and supervised by the state. The probation and police services are set-up to do this at particular locations around the country. This means, in effect, that there are clusters of convicted child sex offenders.

You might suppose that these people will be housed at low cost on council estates. But this is not necessarily the case, as the residents on these estates are highly suspicious of single men who arrive in their midst. So, where are they housed? Answer - where you, or I, would least expect.

Parts of Sussex may indeed be used to house such clusters. I don't know about Sussex, specifically.

You may recall that a few months ago the Home Office did a sudden about-turn with regard to issuing statistics about the regional locations of convicted child sex offenders. Why do you think they did this? Answer - because they are responsible for the clusters and the locations. It is electoral dynamite!

Adrian Yalland said...

annon. I think the point my mum was trying to make is that, even if there was a 'cluster', we still worry too much!

tapestry said...

Thank you, Newmania.

Had a good medical today - infra red saunas are good way to push polychlorobenzenes and organophosphates out of the system and allow the nervous system to recover. I bought one for £300 last year, and the effect has been good, I'm told.

More sweat is required to make British people healthier...especially country people exposed to high doses of dangerous chemicals.