Martin Kirby Column; Accidents Happen, Mobile Madness and a Pub Quest
LET THAT BE A LESSON TO YOU
Because I don't work for the Met Office, I don't know what the weather will be like by the time you read this. Mind you, half the time, the Met Office doesn't seem to know either.
How come the weather bods can get it right when things are looking grim, but when they talk about a 'barbecue summer', they're nowhere near?
Anyway, last week, like many more eminent people than me I was gobsmacked at the way many schools closed at the slightest hint of a snowflake, and pointed out that people of my vintage waded through snowdrifts and sat in freezing classrooms with icicles hanging from our noses. I struck a chord with a lot of you and had a good response to my musings.
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In fact there's been such a fuss nationally that a lot of schools have been embarrassed into promising that it is unlikely to happen again, but why does it happen at all? There is more than one reason and top of the list, as always, is 'Health 'n' Safety'.
Now I happen to think the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) gets a lot of unfair stick for the daft rules we are told they impose, when in fact the HSE is used as a scapegoat by organisations that are frightened to death of being sued. Number one on that list is schools.
Head teachers worry, with some justification, that if little Kylie bruises her bum, Kylie's parents will be straight round to RipOffLawyersRus, hoping to get enough 'compo' to pay for a fortnight in Orlando. It's about time this madness was chopped-off at the knees from both sides.
Firstly, parents should be told it is their responsibility to dress their kids in clothes suitable for the weather conditions and make sure they understand that if it's icy and they run, they might fall down. So they need to be extra careful.
Secondly, unless there is a serious, REAL, danger to health and safety, schools should not be allowed to close. Is it beyond the wit of the Education Department to ensure that a minimum number of teachers at any one school actually live within that school's catchment area? It should be one of the conditions of employment. On the very rare occasions my school was a teacher down, the 'spare' class was divided up between the remaining staff members with no apparent risk to health and safety. Teachers would also do well to remember that the people inconvenienced by closures are the ones paying the tax which supplies their salaries.
The most ridiculous thing of all, last week, was the sight of children for whom it was decided school was too dangerous, wandering the streets with sledges under their arms, on their way to slide full-belt down the icy slopes of Robinswood Hill.
THE WRONG NUMBER
Waiting on a central reservation, I was pleased that a young lady in a silver car had slowed down for me to cross the road. Fortunately I had enough time to dive for the opposite pavement when I realised she hadn't even seen me because she was looking down at the mobile phone in her hand. Anyone caught using a hand-held phone while driving gets three penalty points on their licence and a fine of £60. But the chance of being caught is slim and in any case, most youngsters are willing to pay up rather than be without their phone for two minutes. So there's the answer. Anyone caught using a mobile while driving should receive the above penalties, plus have their phone confiscated until the fine is paid.
The fear of losing their contact list or not being able to update their status on Facebook is more likely to deter them than anything else.
DOCTOR'S LAST ORDERS?
Can you help the Stonehouse History Group? They are seeking photos and memories of the former Crown and Anchor pub in Stonehouse, now a Doctor's surgery. If you have any information, contact Shirley Dicker on 01453 824347