Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Let's preserve conkers

Yesterday I went to one of the local playgrounds we are lucky enough to have as one of my children is particularly fond of swings at the moment. While we were there he, unprompted, discovered some conkers which had fallen out of their shells and sat gleaming on the grass. He collected several and put them in his pushchair deriving huge pleasure from the exercise.

I'm glad that our councils haven't been so crass as to cordon off our trees for fear that conkers might hit someone on the head. The reality is that the risk of their being successfully sued for a meaningful sum of money is negligible (see the worthwhile Better Regulation Task Force report Better Routes to Redress - http://www.brc.gov.uk/downloads/pdf/betterroutes.pdf - for some detailed analysis of this).

Even were the risk of being successfully sued to be greater than it actually is, do we wish to create a society where government tells people that they can't do the things their ancestors have done for countless generations because of some potential risk ? Do we wish our children to grow up so cosseted in cotton wool that they have had no worthwhile experiences and are singularly ill equipped to deal with the difficult venture called adult life ? I don’t think so. We need to both preserve our freedoms and ensure that our children are resilient in the face of adversity if we wish to have a society worth living in. Conversely, if we teach our young that they never need tackle a falling conker or acorn we will get the future we deserve.


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