Is it just because I come from Africa and have pretty much fended for myself shortly after changing out of nappies, or is England (and other parts of the world) in danger of becoming one big, over-protective nanny state? I’m so fed up by being told what to do all the time, what is good for me, not good for me, safe to do, unsafe to do, what to eat, not eat etc. Last Friday I woke up and switched on the news as usual. The forecast said it was going to be a warm weekend and the weatherman was at pains to stress that I shouldn’t forget to apply factor 30 if I was going to be out in the sun for more than 15 minutes, that I must remember to wear a hat and to make sure that I did not venture out between midday and 2pm. Er … who is he talking to? Five year olds? People who have never seen the sun before? A lunchtime appointment dictated that I had to venture outside at midday – gasp! – and make my way to the city centre by tube. Entering the Underground I was bombarded with a booming PA system that told me that in this hot weather I should be carrying a bottle of water with me at all times and that if I felt “overcome with the heat” I should sit down. Um, okay. Firstly stop charging exorbitatnt prices for bottles of water at the station kiosk and, secondly, if you need to sit down, good luck if you can find a seat on the Central Line! Thirdly. Stop. Treating. Me. Like. An. Idiot. I’ve hiked the Fish River Canyon in mid-December, driven up and down the Skeleton Coast in a bombed out old Beetle with no air-con in 40+ temperatures and camped out in Botswana and Mpumulanga at the height of an African summer. But even if I hadn’t done any of these sweat inducing activities, surely as an adult I am savvy enough to take care of myself by now? Who appointed these messengers the parents and guardians of us all? If there’s going to be a heatwave, tell me so I can dress appropriately and plan a weekend braai but that’s all I need to know. The rest I can manage by myself thank you.
Addendum: Slightly in the same vein but on a different note, this small piece in today’s Telegraph caught my eye. “Highway officials banned villagers from decorating a roundabout with flowers over health and safety fears.” Seems residents in the Cornish village of Dobwalls wanted to spruce up the new traffic measure which is covered in weeds, but the Highways Agency have stopped them doing so because “the plants could catch the eye of passing drivers and cause an accident.” Strange but true.