Remember life before health and safety?

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I was talking to a lady who had just been looking around the new Broad Street development and in the course of our chat we were having a laugh about bus conductors throwing parcels of newspapers at us paper boys and how it wouldn’t be allowed now.

Health and safety has also been a big factor in changing our world and attitudes.

She mentioned how the open door at the back of the buses had a pole, and did I recall how men, mainly, would hold on to the pole as the bus slowed down,then jump off and walk on the road to keep the momentum so one didn’t fall over.

Indeed I did! At five or six years old I watched this and one day, before Mother could stop me, I grabbed the pole and jumped, falling flat on my face in the road. Luckily no traffic was following us. She said that once a man had been killed on North Bridge while doing this.

I recalled how we would sit on asbestos-wrapped pipes to have a rest or cal or drink water from lead pipes.

Then came health and safety and, like everything else in life, it became ludicrous as the health and safety brigade had to justify its existence.

I recall that, at work in the ‘80s, one operator could no longer get near enough to his machine to produce anything because of all the safety devices attached to it.

On our primary school nature walks we had one teacher, two at the most. The other day I saw a load of infants leaving the local school. I had to smile; there were more adults than children!

Christmas time at school was a lovely experience. At Moorside Infants’, Ovenden, we would have a ball, with food, sweets, songs and games. Suddenly the teacher would shout: “Listen!”; the faint sound of bells could be heard, getting louder then stopping. Silence, then Santa would appear in the doorway with presents for all.

Oh, the expectancy and joy of a present with your name on it, just for you, delivered by Santa. It was baby boom time so the tables were arranged in two tiers round the hall. We all hoped to go “upstairs” on the tables; imagine doing that today.

Anthony Buckless