So I am currently on holiday on the island of Crete, and having a lovely time. I should therefore have much better things to do than be posting to my blog, and indeed I do, but I feel compelled to put my feelings down here, as I am far from happy. The reason for this is an email which to me highlights the stupidity of modern society – that ridiculous and sometimes shameful umbrella called ‘Health & Safety’.
Let me explain:
For a few weeks now I have been very much looking forward to receiving the instruction pack for The Great British Bike Ride. It will contain instructions on things that I have been waiting to know about for some time, and the event is only four weeks away. I have to say that the organization for the event has been excellent all the way so far, and the communications very thorough.
So last night a 16 page email arrived telling me where to be every step of the way, what we will be fed, what to bring, and every conceivable question seems to have been answered up front. I know how many people are staying in each tent, what time we will get up each morning (5.15 on the final day for example – ouch!) etc. I read the whole thing eagerly (although I shouldn’t be doing such things on my holidays), and there appears to be nothing left to learn or to be left to chance. Excellent, apart from one item, almost hidden in the small print.
There on page 8 of 16 were the words “good old Health and Safety has dictated that we won’t all be able to cycle into Twickenham and instead only 10 bicycles will be allowed, and the rest will have to walk/jog behind……” I could not believe what I was reading.
People sign up to do things for various reasons, and those reasons by and large keep them going as they slog away over their months of training. In my case one of the driving reasons was the thought of arriving into Twickenham in front of 70,000 people, something that drew my eye the first time I saw the advertisement for the event, and something that I have said to people quite a few times since.
So now it seems that I cannot do that at all. Someone in their infinite wisdom has decided that it contradicts something or other. How ridiculous is that? We will all of us just have cycled some 330 miles on all sorts of public roads across half of the country, and then someone sees fit to say it is a hazard to Christ knows who (and I’d love to find out who) for us to cycle inside a rugby ground. I mean, seriously, get a fucking grip.
I have written a note to Barry Clayton, the Event Director of the GBBR, to express my disappointment. As I sit here now I am gutted quite frankly. I have spent a lot of time and effort and indeed money on getting this far, and now I am not even sure if I want to do it any more. Without wanting to appear over-petulant (which I might, please let me know if you think I am) it feels to me like climbing a mountain only to be told just before you get to the top that you can’t actually walk to the summit. Someone has just said that you have to go there by helicopter instead.
I even paid for four tickets for the rugby game for people who certainly aren’t interested in the rugby so they could see me ride into the stadium. Two of them are my kids. I even had imagined riding in to the ground, absolutely knackered, but with tears in my eyes, looking out for them, and they’d be just a tiny bit proud of their old Dad for doing a 330 mile ride for various good causes etc. It just doesn’t feel the same for the cyclists to be walking behind ten bikes – what will the rest of the crowd there think as the cyclists enter – that most of us walked the final part as we were all too tired? That really really makes me sad and mad, and it has tarnished the whole thing for me.
So in the words of the grandma on The Catherine Tate Show: “what a load of old shit”, and as I put in the title here, “Health and Safety My Arse”
And that, in the words of Forrest Gump, “is all I have to say about that”.
You know I will still be monumentally proud of you weather you are on a bike, walking or being stretchered in.