Friday, October 29, 2010

What most sensible people do

Ah, bobbing for apples. Nothing says 'by gum, it's Hallowe'en' more than sticking your head in a bucket of water and trying to grab an apple with your teeth. As the Mail puts it:
Most sensible people consider it a jolly Halloween tradition that poses a danger no graver than getting a squirt of water up your nose.
See how the tone of the 'news' article is set by the intro - if you disagree with the Mail, you disagree with sensible, jolly, traditional folk.
And now - boo, hiss - enter the baddy in the second paragraph:
But now apple bobbing has fallen foul of the health and safety police – with participants advised to wear goggles, remove stalks and use bottled water.
Playing the villain is opthalmologist Parwez Hossain. Pfft. Opthalmologists, eh? What do they know about eye injuries?
Mr Hossain said three people were admitted to the hospital with apple bobbing injuries last year. He added: ‘Casualty staff have seen children and adults turning up on Halloween with scratches on the cornea and eye injuries from impacts caused by apple bobbing.'
 Oh, OK, he knows a fair bit. But don't listen to him, kids, he's the health and safety police. Like the police, only without any authority, and speaking in a purely advisory capacity, partly because we asked him to. Listen instead to 'Hallowe'en enthusiast' Ben Richards:
‘I’ve done apple bobbing for years and never had any problems’
 Ben has clearly got his wires crossed, and thinks that Mr Hossain (boo, hiss) was saying that absolutely everyone who bobs for apples will be injured.
Less enthusiastic about Hallowe'en, but probably more so about apples, is Adrian Barlow, chief executive of English Apples and Pears, who said:
'I have never heard of anybody suffering an injury as a result of apple bobbing.'
Speak to Mr Hossain, he saw three last year.
The punchline of the article is a crescendo of further Hallowe'en health and safety 'horrors', culminating in:
[The hospital trust] advised care when using glow sticks because the contents can cause irritation if splashed in the eye.
Yeah, you know what? I think I'll probably actually take that one seriously.

And it's two for the price of one. Accompanying this article is a short piece about champion swimmer Alex Crossland-Robins, 10, who has been 'banned from wearing goggles in the pool under health and safety rules'.
Turns out it's policy to let children get used to the feel of water in their eyes - so they are less likely to panic if they find themselves in deep water without goggles, presumably. Oh, and it only applies in Alex's school swimming lessons - he can wear goggles whenever he likes on his own time.
He's pictured with about a dozen medals and trophies and is obviously dead good at swimming and that. I doubt he won those competitions in school time, so it's completely incongruous to link his 'champion' status with his school's rules about goggles.

Never mind though, the die has been cast and the narrative established. By next week, Littlejohn will be riffing on apple bobbing being banned by Muslim lesbian PC do-gooders - and the facts will be nothing but a distant memory.

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