Health and Safety at Work

OK, joke to start! But isn’t it easy to mock the Health and Safety dudes? Back in UK, where I come from, the so-called H&S ‘Executive’ has led local authorities to such idiotic things as removing hanging baskets of flowers from city buildings “in case they fall and injure someone” and cut down horse chestnut trees to prevent children playing “conkers” and maybe getting splinters in their eyes. And no teacher these days dare take school kids on some adventure trip – if only because of the mass of risk-assessment paperwork needed and the threat of legal action if anything goes wrong.

There is also a story, which I cannot verify, that the H&S brigade wanted a law in the UK that all performing artists such as acrobats and trapeze guys must wear a safety harness at all times. Fortunately, it has never been enforced – just imagine the mess these guys would get into if they had to manouever around three safety harnesses!

And what about the ‘ladder of swords’? This is maybe the largest one I ever saw and is, I think, in China:

…clearly the guy should be wearing tough soled boots, and probably steel toe-caps too…

…but wait, his feet aren’t actually cut, Mr. H&S Person! In fact, if this lady can perform the feat in fish-net stockings without even cutting them…

…perhaps there’s a little clue that properly trained people can do this stuff, without your interference! In fact, here is one of her fellow artistes, still in the fish-net stockings, which don’t seem to catch fire either!

She does, however, have a nasty cut across her stomach – a little too enthusiastic on the bed of swords, maybe. But she chose to take the risk, and people should be allowed to take responsibility for their own actions! And as for this guy:

…at least he has a spine guard. I was once allowed – no, the guy insisted – to throw darts at one of our colleagues without such a guard in place. That really was dangerous, given that I hadn’t played darts for years and was never any good at hitting the board! Which reminds me, perhaps I never introduced Randy and Dan yet – two more important players in our little drama. Must remember to do that in a future post.

Oh yes, our little drama. I think that the presses on Volume 1 start rolling next week. But, what our experience has taught us is that no H&S ‘risk assessment’ is proof against misadventures. In our whole performing careers as acrobats and the rest, we’ve only had one or two shaky moments: that is, until we were faced with one of these:

…twice, actually, and that’s what persuaded me to write it all down. And to have a dig at ‘Elf and Safety’. They sure wouldn’t have seen that one coming…

About tonycavanagh

Born Northampton UK; school Oxford UK and Oak Ridge Tennessee, where I met my wonderful partner Dave, also from UK. Oak Ridge is our main training base for acrobatics and circus stuff, but we also established a base in Wales (UK) to serve us when we are working in Europe. Our 'story', of finding gay love, learning the acrobatics trade and then of how we got shot at during our show (and worse was to follow - just to prove that the risks of being an acrobat are not always the most obvious ones!) are now available in my three books 'Loving the Boy', 'The Power of Love' and 'Against All Odds'. Links available on most blog posts. Actually, waiting for the imminent arrival of the first printed copies was far scarier than anything we do in performance. A fourth book - not about us but exploring the sadness of a gay Native American boy denied his true identity - is currently with an agent for evaluation. watch for 'Let The Future Find Me' in due time. And now to book five... another boy, another quest... seems its always boys...
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