Saturday, 9 January 2010

Snow Play Today

"It's snowing, it's cold, it's slippery" says the message on the city council website. An equally observant four year old has already spotted this fact from his bedroom window, and can't wait to get outside. Against the snow and cold he'll put on thick gloves and a hat that covers his ears, then he'll pull on a pair of boots to give himself some traction on the ice. He's now ready to face the wintery conditions in the park.

Except that the city authorities have decided otherwise. Today, the activities in the park are out of bounds to children and adults. "In cold weather, the ground becomes hard and slippery" a rather pompous specially-produced sign announces. The entire play area is cordoned off behind red and white tape, a victim of the weather before the weather has the chance to take any victims.

It looks like a crime scene, but one undisturbed by any traces of a guilty party. The criminal is the snow itself, forever labelled now a danger in the mind of an impressionable child. Here there will be no snowballs, no snowmen, no angels in the snow. Move along please, there's nothing to see here.

The child is disappointed, the adults bewildered. Another responsibility taken from them, the responsibility of deciding what is safe for their children. In the city, there are no private spaces to make these decisions, no sheltered gardens behind houses. In the city, the child's garden is the park. Which parents would forbid their children from going out into a back garden on a snowy morning, a decision the city fathers have taken? This is no longer a play area, but an area of safe containment. Closed, "for your security and the security of your children".

It would be more understandable and less offensive without the intellectual dishonesty. How much more refreshing it would be to see a sign that read "Closed due to the fear of expensive litigation".

8 comments:

ArtSparker said...

This would tend to weigh as evidence on the British side of the feud with the French, I must say. Apart from wry remarks, I'm sorry to hear this for your son's sake.

seanachie said...

Actually this over-zealous application of health and safety regulations would be far more common in Britain, as this story illustrates:

Adam said...

Just to make clear that I'm not targetting Paris in particular. It's my home and I know only the situation here, but I have no doubt that it's as bad or worse elsewhere. Apart from in Canada or Norway perhaps!

Peter said...

.... and for adults, there is the deception of not being able to find the snow in the only places where it stays rather nice to watch, the parks! :-(

designslinger.com said...

I thought we lived in the most litigious empire in the world!
Perhaps not.
Sections of the U.S. are buried in snow and only closed because they are literally inaccessible.
We've been watching scores of families play in the park across from our building, in snow and icy conditions.
C'est la vie.

Cergie said...

Ta conclusion est la bonne, les maires se couvrent de même que les directeurs d'école. La rémunération supplémentaire de ces derniers est ridicule par rapport au temps passé et aux responsabilités surtout, et si un enfant se blesse dans la cour d'école les parents sont là pour assigner les "coupables". Société sans risque, principe de précaution.
Alors plus de "cage à écureuil" pour grimper ni d'"araignée", même par temps sec.

Laids Livres said...

Better be very careful these days.

One of my friend just broke her motorcycle. Her head would have gone too if she hadn’t her helmet on…

Starman said...

Are you sure this isn't in the US? I can't believe the French have become so ridiculous.

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