Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Healthy and safe or health and safety?

We’ve discussed many things tonight but one of them is Britain’s obsession with ‘health and safety’. These often futile directives have all the freeing powers of a hungry boa-constrictor. If there was a prize for stifling adventure is surely belongs to the stuffy bureaucrats whose fickle and fearful sensibilities get enshrined in law. The ‘health and safety’ adherent becomes a person planning for every negative eventuality, almost willing on disaster to enable the implementation of their contingency plan or to vouch for the veracity of their risk assessment.

Earlier today we’ve visited Počitelj, “one of few urban ensembles in Bosnia and Herzegovina preserved in their integrity to the present time developed through the several phases of the history, beginning with the medieval period.” Put simply, it’s old. It’s a small old village built on the side of a hill with a tower at the top and ramparts around its borders. Being boys, my sister-in-laws husband and I had to climb the tower. Steps in the dark with no lights or handrails, easily climb-into-able windows with no bars and not a warning sign in sight – surely not! It was deliciously dangerous. I actually have a healthy respect for heights, which means I feel sick when I look out over big drops, but you can’t let such bodily self-preservation instincts stand in the way of a good bit of exploration.

Up on the ramparts we suddenly discovered a hole in the ground. Perhaps it wasn’t quite big enough for us to fall through but it’d have easily swallowed a leg up to the thigh. Being boys we had to see what was in it so we talk a photo. The flash showed up water. It seemed close but dropping a stone in indicated it was easily a ten foot drop. I say all this to say we had fun while admiring everything in the golden light of the setting sun. There was no accident or injury because we took responsibility for our own actions. Too many regulations undoubtedly lead to the worst kind of passive abdication. Here’s to a world more healthy and safe but caring less for the blight that is ‘health and safety’.

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