THIS POST MAY CAUSE IRRITATION
Health and bloody safety. It's everywhere isn't it?
No, it isn't. There's one area where it's not only ignored, it's actively flouted. Now I know that, as someone who believes that life's dangers are there to weed out the stupid, I should be applauding this final bastion of peril as the needle in the lip balm of life that reminds us that we are, indeed, alive. But come on, at least be consistent.
My house is currently in a state that would be regarded as uninhabitable in Khayelitsha, courtesy of plasterers, decorators and - it would seem - Visigoths. Our existing decor was challengingly colourful when it went up in 1990, but had become pleasantly eroded by time, grandchildren and the wife's Lambert & Butlers. Nothing so jarring as an identifiable colour disturbed the monochrome quietude. So, a few weeks ago, she who must be obeyed decided that it should be redecorated. This, apparently, requires walls to be excavated to half their thickness and every horizontal surface to be covered in beige slurry and footprints.
When a slight precession of the builders' gyroscopes finally produced a flattish wall, we went out to buy pictures and door handles. I've no idea who made the handles or what the pictures depict as every square inch of all of them was obscured by warning labels. The pictures bore two particularly threatening notices:
IMPROPER HANGING OF THIS ITEM COULD CAUSE IT TO FALL, POSSIBLY CAUSING INJURY. YOU ARE STRONGLY RECOMMENDED TO SEEK PROFESSIONAL ASSISTANCE WITH INSTALLATION.
Scary stuff, eh? But it gets worse...
THIS ITEM MAY BE HEAVY. CARELESS LIFTING COULD CAUSE INJURY. ALWAYS GET HELP BEFORE LIFTING
Needless to say, all of the pictures are still in the boot of the car as I'm terrified to remove them. One of them was nearly a foot square, so I had a lucky escape. I promise I'm not making this up.
But then I came to unpack the door handles. They were mounted on card inside miniature plastic fish tanks and looked spectacular, especially with all the yellow and black warnings. Removing them required the following:
Another screwdriver with a cross-head
A smaller screwdriver
A Haynes manual
Honestly, I remember changing the engine of a Skoda Estelle with fewer tools. And, as there were eight door handles to unpack, in less time. And less requirement for medical attention. By the time I'd been savaged by hidden staples and slashed by tearing plastic I'd lost enough blood to earn my next donor's badge.
When I left school I worked briefly in a factory that featured two 12 foot deep pits for building furnaces. There were no rails or safety harnesses as it was generally agreed that falling into them would be a bloody stupid thing to do. And, know what? No one did. Nowadays, you can't open the fridge without signing a waiver in case of frostbite or a milk carton falling on your foot.
But buy any child's toy, or just about anything in a DIY shop, and it's perfectly OK that you're more likely to open an artery than open the bleeding package.