I was saddened to read of the decision to cancel this year’s Elm Fete on the grounds of onerous Health & Safety paperwork and escalating insurance premiums. Sadly, this is no one-off. More and more, I hear of people forced to ditch plans to organise a public event because the toll taken in terms of paperwork and money is too high.
I have every sympathy with the fete organisers but a growing concern about the way in which social life in this country is being stifled by an unholy trinity of insurance firms, health and safety mandarins and litigation lawyers who have sadly dropped all pretence of being a cut above their sue-happy American counterparts.
If the H&S people could produce evidence of the carnage caused by summer fetes down the years of course, this would go some way towards allaying my misgivings. It may be that they have filing cabinets full to bursting of tales of slipped discs caused by frantic apple-bobbing, or of innocent people mown down by friendly fire at the coconut shy.
What on earth would our ancestors make of us? At a time when our society is less and less about community and more and more about the individual, we cannot even put a village fete on without our plans being effectively thwarted by an alliance of vulture lawyers, paranoid insurers and salaried busybodies.
Am I the only one to see the irony of a country that strives to be healthier and safer, only to die of boredom?