Wednesday, 25 April 2012

140 days to my own 
personal celebration

IN case you don’t know, it is now less than 140 days until the Olympics and Paralympic Games are over.

I say this because the 100-days-to-go landmark was recently celebrated with much delight and sandcastle building, so I felt it only fair to put things in perspective by holding a balancing celebration to mark the finish of the double games period.

My delight was every bit as heartfelt as the 100-day celebrants although my budget didn’t run to building a £5,000 giant sandcastle because Olympic bosses have way more cash than me and because the sandcastle would have made a right mess of my lawn.

Instead I opted to draw a giant smiley face across my garden’s finely tilled courgette patch and settle for that. At least people could see my display for longer than they could see Weymouth’s sandscastle.

That was because the nation’s television recorded the sandcastle but also that it no longer existed except in photographs. - dismantled five days before the 100-days-to-go landmark because of what local Olympic leaders described as “an organisational decision”. 

This was council-speak for preventing anyone suing them if the structure collapsed and damaged their hair-do.

The 40-day difference between the council’s start and my finish celebrations took on fresh significance over the Easter period when the town’s much vaunted “intelligent” traffic light and transport system got its first real taste this year of a major influx of traffic.

Civic leaders told me that seafront traffic was backed up from the Jubilee Clock right out on to Preston Beach Road and that traffic trying to get on to Swannery Bridge was backed up towards Southill.

But, even with vastly more visitors expected for the Games, the county council assures me that the transport system works, that they are “confident” ahead of the Olympics and that they are looking forward to showcasing Weymouth and Portland to the world.

That’s all right then, isn’t it?!

A health and safety watchdog 
for health and safety!

THIS is just too good not to share with you... a department is being formed to tackle some of the more ludicrous excesses of health and safety scaremongers.

They will be tasked to try and prevent any repeat of such mind boggling interference as suggesting children are banned from playing conkers unless they wear protective eye masks.

A list was recently published of the top ten most bizarre bans on health and safety grounds, which began with children being banned from taking part in a school sports day sack race!

Next came an H&S ban on school football games unless the football was made of sponge while at No 8 – and this one is my favourite – the eminently sensible H&S ban on using pins to secure commemorative poppies!

Other madness has ranged from bans on kite flying at a beach, carnivals with fancy dress parades and even one holiday camp being banned from allowing its dodgem cars to bump into each other – and don’t forget Weymouth losing its motorised carnival floats for a while in a row over staying “green” and soaring insurance costs caused by H&S fears.

The mind reels not at people coming up with this safety conscious piffle but that they are being paid to do so, the argument being that, in our litigation-minded society, people lose no chance to sue for the slightest injury and you can’t be too careful.

That happens to be true but there have to be limits and hopefully this new department will weed out some of the more over zealous suggestions.

Terrified high flier 
just grins and bears it

EVERYONE has heard the jokes about airline passengers being told their pilot is scared of flying, but sometimes these tales have a grain of truth.

British Airways recently unveiled their funding support for new solar panels being installed at Osprey Leisure Centre on Portland.

Smiling, immaculately groomed flight staff were thick on the ground and, unbeknown to me, that was exactly where one cabin staff member wanted to stay.

He is very scared of heights but is fine serving passengers 30,000ft up in the air because he cannot see the ground.

So when Press members including myself arranged to have triple Olympic sailing gold medallist Ben Ainslie shake hands with BA environment head Jonathon Counsell next to the solar panels all watched by BA staff and other guests we thought nothing of it.

Unfortunately the solar panels were mounted on the roof and to get everyone there they had to climb several vertical metal ladders bolted on to the side of the centre.

By the time we got to the top we were some way up and had a very clear view indeed of what the ground looked like way beneath us, so credit where credit is due to the BA staff member scared of heights.

He tackled the ladder and somehow made it up. Much more importantly from his point of view, he also made it down safely although, judging by his pale complexion, he could have done with a stiff shot of “in flight” refreshment!


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