Make a cup of coffee for this, it's Leg Iron territory.
If you have ever run a business, or even been a line manager in one, or hell - just worked in one, you will be well aware of the stifling nature of health and safety laws (the root of almost all of which can be traced back to the EU, by the way).
Especially where it relates to chiiildren. Long gone are the days where children were to be seen and not heard. Nowadays they must be monitored throughout their lives, evaluated at ever-decreasing intervals, and their wellbeing protected by measures well beyond those which most of us would consider sane.
My generation weren't overweight as we played footie with a tennis ball at every break, yet round objects are now considered dangerous and have been banned at just about every school in the country. Our sports days went ahead if it was blistering sunshine (sunburn risk) or the ground was sodden (risk of slipping), and we were given cups and medals, not thumbs up stickers for taking part in case we got upset about not winning - our parents were even allowed to come and watch. If we hurt ourselves, the school secretary (or matron, if you were posh) gave you a plaster - those things that cannot now be applied since kids began emerging from the womb fabricated from fine breakable crystal.
Kids are so protected now that I feel like I have been cheated. When I was small, the world was for grown-ups and I couldn't wait to be one. Now I am, the world isn't the oyster of adults anymore. a triumverate of health and safety regulations,
I'll digress at this point, if I may, for a spot of anecdotal reminiscing. It's OK, it is relevant. Last year, I was driving through a small village when a kid, I dunno, about 13 years old, crossed the road in front of me. Far enough in front for me to see him well in advance and to be able to stop accordingly should he not have crossed by the time I got there. But rather than hurry along, he ambled at a purposely slow pace, so much so that I was eventually forced to come to a gentle halt. Rather astounded at his arrogance, I just stared in incredulity as he waddled toward the pavement. Whereby, when he was almost at the kerb, without even the courtesy of glancing in my direction, he gave me the finger.
First instinct is obviously that I should have just mown the fucker down. But then there's a house of pain in store if you do that. Other options? Well, I could have got out and walloped the little cunt, but then I am identifiable by my number plate and that is an entry on the child abuse register or some such. Wind down the window and tell him in no uncertain terms precisely what I think of him? I'm sure there would have been an anonymous complainant around to tell the tale.
We had the Green Cross Code Man telling us that roads were to be respected, the new breed have adverts telling them that it's not their fault, it's the driver's.
Kids are now untouchable, and you know what, they fucking know it. It's precisely because they are devious by their very nature. They are testing the water at every opportunity to see what they can get away with. It's the one part of childhood that hasn't changed one iota. We did it, so do all kids and they will continue to do so for millenia to come. The difference is that we would see how high a wall we could jump off without breaking our legs, today's youngsters aren't allowed near the wall. We would have competitions as to who could slide furthest on the ice in winter, kids today won't see the ice as it will have been salted well before they get to school, or else they will be sent back home for health and safety reasons. We would push our teacher's patience to just the limit of having the wooden blackboard rubber thrown at our heads. That practice is long gone, the teacher is hamstrung and can't even touch the
Most crucially, we would be told that something was inadvisable to do, but some would try it anyway, and if we were hurt, we'd have learned something that day.
14 year old Aiden Williams learned just such a lesson, according to this report today.
A boy of 14 collapsed after chewing 45 sticks of nicotine gum - equivalent to 180 Marlboro Light cigarettes - in just 25 minutes. Aiden Williams overdosed on the Nicorette gum, designed to help smokers quit the habit, after it was handed out by counsellors at his school.
It's hard to see anyone coming out smelling of roses in this one, but strangely enough, I can't see that the kid can be blamed fully as many of the commenters tend to veer towards.
He claims that he was given them by someone else. That may or may not be true but it is fairly irrelevant. Apparently, those dishing out what is, let's face it, a drug, to kids at the school, claim that they warned the kids about over-indulgence. In which case, they sure as shit don't understand kids' propensity to push boundaries. If he did get hold of them via another kid, then how was he to know?
The only way you can blame the kid is by accepting that he had been given them by an adult and should have followed their every word. But then, considering kids are so cosseted and bubble-wrapped, why should he even have contemplated something dangerous being placed in his possession?
His schooling will have been so mired in health and safety that he has never experienced true risk. For him, everything is as safe as houses. From the springy rubber under the climbing frame to the break time watching videos because it's spitting outside.
Health and safety, from its noble inception to reduce deaths in heavy manufacturing in the 70s, has mutated into an overbearing religion where children can honestly believe that nothing dangerous will be placed in their way. It's the adults who will carry the can in that unlikely event.
So where was health and safety in this instance? Nanny, of course, is unrepentant, as one would expect.
'Aiden's friend who was originally given the gum would have been told very clearly how often to use it by the worker who gave it to him. We always make sure clients understand not to give out their gum to anyone else. We will investigate the incident and will continue to ensure that young people know about the dangers of giving the gum to others as well as the correct dosage.'
No, you are missing the point, dickhead. Where was the risk assessment? It's a given these days that such things are taken into consideration. Anyone serious about assessing risk would take into account that giving out hundreds of packets of a potentially dangerous drug to kids, especially when not notifying the parents beforehand, is a bloody stupid thing to do.
Or does health and safety take a back seat where pharmaceutical profits are concerned?
One of the little Puddlecotes (the boy) fell over a couple of months ago and was treated to the 'I can't give you a plaster' routine. He did tell me, though, that he was given what his school sec called 'a magic sweet'. You won't be surprised to learn that, on further investigation, this turned out to be a painkiller. This came two days after he had been forcibly made to bin a boiled sweet, the last of the ones he had happily enjoyed on the way back from a long journey to York, which I had put in his lunchbox. He was roundly and publicly berated for it.
The sweet I gave him was obviously not 'magic' enough.
The righteous are so into their crusade against smoking that health and safety, in this instance, has either been discarded in favour of the healthist cause, or has been circumvented by the righteous in their thrall of pharmaceutical interests.
The terms of health and safety legislation state that if harm is caused to someone where risk has not been properly addressed, there is a case for a prosecution. Is it not blatantly clear that, under the circumstances, someone should be called to account here?
Do you reckon someone will be? I sincerely doubt it.
Just as the righteous changed the rules between my being a kid and an adult, so do they change the rules latterly when it suits them. When pushing pharma products to kids, bludgeoning health and safety laws fall strangely silent.