5:28pm Thursday 28th February 2013
By Ellis Butcher
CHILDREN’S playgrounds are safer than they used to be. I say this having just watched my youngest somersault backwards off the big swing.
Luckily, her head landed on that black spongy surface that is now standard carpeting. Thirty-odd years ago it would have been solid concrete, lightly sprinkled with green broken glass.
Did health and safety assessments exist back then?
If they did, they were most likely signed off with a cursory: ‘If anyone falls off this, it’s a hospital job.”
The difference back then was your parents were reluctant to bother the doctor with ‘trivialities’ like glass in the cheek.
It’d be a case of: “Where’s the tweezers, get the Dettol.”
No-one rang injurylawyers 4You looking for recompense for what was sometimes an accident of your own making, and sometimes genuine negligence.
Dad would peer over the top of his newspaper and irrespective of what had happened, his conclusion often was: “Well you shouldn’t be so stupid then, should you?”
Sometimes to encourage us to stop crying, we’d get a slap across the backside as well.
I would have liked to have watched Supernanny 1970s. It would have gone along the lines of: “Tell them to stop crying. If they don’t, smack them. Hurt them on top of their hurt. They’ll never do it again!”
We live in different times. I’m reminded of a day in the early 80s when a very thin friend of mine, then aged 10, found a serious design flaw in a spectacular new climbing frame down the local park.
Shaped like a crawling caterpillar with a hump, its highest point was about 12ft up.
My friend squeezed his little body through the top rung, but couldn’t get his head through.
Already committed, he hung there, limply by his neck, far out of my short reach. He was unable to call for help because his jaw was being crushed against the rung by his entire body weight.
After having a good gawp, we all ran to get help. I think he got a ‘good hiding’. And to this day, people still reckon his neck looks longer than before.
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