Friday, 18 May 2012

Tea-Related Injuries

Curlews in the Goyt has reported that he missed his footing on the stairs last night and wound up in a heap at the bottom covered in tea (he was, he said, totally sober). I feel that he is not alone.

A report from the Department of Trade and Industry some years ago found that activities like serving tea or walking down a corridor cause great problems to the British. It advised that tea cosies incorrectly lifted off the pot or dropped on the floor are responsible for around 40 emergency hospital treatments a year, and that cosy accidents have doubled in recent years. However, a spokesman for the Association of British Insurers advised that you would need to have to have a major injury in order to make a claim. Dropping a tea cosy on your foot would not usually count, unless it had a teapot in it.

A more recent report in the Telegraph warned that a survey had shown that more than half of all Britons have been injured by biscuits. Hidden dangers included flying fragments, being scalded while dunking, poking oneself in the eye or falling off a chair whilst stretching for the tin. One unfortunate ended up stuck in wet concrete after reaching to pick up a fallen biscuit. For information, custard creams are the greatest hazard, whilst jaffa cakes are the safest – although, as Mr Potter QC ruled in a 1981 court case, for VAT purposes jaffa cakes are in fact cakes, not biscuits.

Of course tea-related accidents are only the tip of the iceberg. Clogs carelessly left on stairs cause a number accidents each year, closely followed by place mats, dustpans and bread bins. I imagine that abandoned clogs are a regular northern hazard, but place mats and bread bins on the stairs? Has the recession meant that people have used their tables for fuel?

Apparently the number of people who concussed themselves by running into a tree trunk has risen to almost 2,000 a year. I need to find out where that tree is and avoid it.

The report stated that almost 6,000 people sprained, twisted or broke a limb attempting to zip up their flies. I have heard of fly-related accidents, but never one that involved limbs in the strictest interpretation of the term. What’s going on? Similarly, people are advised not to remove tights while drunk. I recall a number of occasions in my misspent youth when I attempted to remove tights when drunk, with varying degrees of success, but I must have been lucky.

Certainly there is a need to be alert, because danger lurks in unlikely objects. Glossy magazines cause more accidents than chainsaws, and beanbags more than meat cleavers. However, health and safety advice must have been getting through, because sponge and loofah accidents and armchair-related injuries were both in decline.

Time for a cuppa, I think. I’ll don my helmet and goggles.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Bloody Maidstone

The bloody shops are full of bling,
While bloody hoodies do their thing
Outside bloody Burger King,
In bloody Maidstone.

Bloody rain, no bloody sun,
Bloody crowds no bloody fun,
I wish I had a bloody gun,
In bloody Maidstone.

Traffic’s seized up, can’t turn right,
One way system’s bloody shite,
Parking’s just a bloody fright,
In bloody Maidstone.

Bloody mall is full of druggies,
Teenage girls with bloody buggies
Pushing kids in stolen huggies,
In bloody Maidstone.

Bloody schoolkids by the doorfull,
Their bloody manners bloody awful.
It makes you wonder why they’re lawful,
In bloody Maidstone.

Don’t even go there bloody nights;
It’s full of chavs as high as kites,
Staining walls and starting fights,
In bloody Maidstone.

Its celebrities are ‘B’ list benders;
Except for ‘Barry’ from East Enders
And Mckenzie Crook, they’re all horrendous,
In bloody Maidstone.

So what’s the county’s fairest city?
Is it Maidstone? Is it titty!
Only the irony is witty,
In bloody Maidstone.


(With acknowledgements to Capt. Hamish Blair for ‘Bloody Orkney’ and John Cooper Clarke for ‘Chickentown’)

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Girl in the Mirror

Hot on the heels of daughter Kirsty's headlining at the Brussels Folk Club, someone's posted this video of her performing at Maidstone's Hazlitt Theatre last year, with a song she'd just written.

The Summer of the Bear - Bella Pollen

When a diplomat dies in sinister circumstances his widow instinctively escapes to her spiritual home in the Outer Hebrides, along with her confused and reluctant children. As each tries in their own way to come to terms with what has happened, the family seems to be unravelling, but an escaped bear, government development proposals and the support of a distinctive island community provide the clues which allow the family to uncover the truth.

Drawing on her clear love of the Highlands and familiarity with its communities, Bella Pollen has taken the unlikeliest of ingredients, woven them on an island hand loom, and produced a fey blend of mystery, international intrigue and Hebridean magic which is at once gripping and enchanting. That some of the strangest elements of the story are drawn from actual events only increases the sense of wonder.

Impossible to categorise, this is a thoroughly enjoyable book which leaves the reader curiously enriched.