Thursday, December 21, 2006

A merry bubble-wrapped Christmas

Ah, the good old days. I remember Thomas Salter Toys and Sports, who produced many of the delightful toys of my childhood, most of which have been long since banned.

The chemistry set which contained all the ingredients for gunpowder, along with magnesium ribbon (a magnificent burn!), a methylated spirit burner, a host of chemicals, many of which you'd now be hard pressed to find in a college chemistry lab, and everything - everything, made of glass. No plastic, no safety nonsense.

For plastic lovers there was Plasticraft, which allowed the experimentally-inclined child to embed practically anything in plastic resin. The resin turned out to be highly flammable, or carcinogenic or something. It's gone, anyway.

Were these toys dangerous? Well, yes, but that was obvious before you opened the box. They came with warnings and instructions for safe use. I managed to survive childhood by following those instructions most of the time, and by using common sense when I bypassed them. Neither I nor anyone I knew was ever seriously injured, not even when we outgrew toys and discovered weedkiller-based explosives.

So it was with some nostalgia for those days of risk and excitement that I read this site . Yes, those toys involved risk, Yes, you could get hurt, but they were fun.

Having a device that could accelerate small steel cars to unreasonable speeds was fun. Having a toy gun that fired plastic darts was fun. A penknife with a myriad ways to cut yourself accidentally? Marvellous. Now, even adults can't carry penknives in the UK without risking arrest. All my school friends had one, and the thought of attacking someone with it never crossed our minds.

Modern children's toys are safe and sanitised. No sharp edges, no high temperatures, no chemicals, no risk, and very little fun. Children grow up to think the world is a foam-wrapped place in which they can come to no harm.

So it comes as a surprise when they finally emerge into the real world, and find it's not like that at all.


Anonymous said...

"Children grow up to think the world is a foam-wrapped place in which they can come to no harm."

And then when an accident does happen they look about for someone to sue because they've grown up thinking there is no such thing as an accident. Someone must be responsible.

Worse, if they are responsible because they used the product in a blatantly foolish manner, they still sue, because they believe it is the responsibility of their fellow man to anticipate their stupidity and prevent them from demonstrating it.

Romulus Crowe said...

Yes, we have very nearly negated any influence from natural selection. Now the stupid, instead of being embarrassed by their stupidity, can sue for it.

And we wonder why no plumber, builder, electrician etc will take on an apprentice. One accident, the apprentice sues, the tradesman is out of business.

It's no longer even safe to help an old lady on to a bus with her shopping. If the bag breaks while you're holding it, it's your fault. You have to reimburse the cost of the shopping.

This is the world of the PC oafs. A world where you can't push someone out of the way of a speeding car in case they sue you for assault. A world where you dare not speak of your beliefs in case someone is offended. A world where even eye-contact can be construed as threatening. A world, eventually, of sullen silence.

Then, no doubt, the PC will tell us we're being rude by ignoring everyone.

I've started early.

Southern Writer said...

I've started early.


These are great posts, as usual, but I'm in that mood, too. I'm so ticked right now I could smack someone a good one, so this is probably not a good time for me to let what's on my mind fly out my fingers. Please excuse me, and I'll catch up with you in a while.

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