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Now football and fishing are so perilous they require health warnings and safety exams, maybe it’s better we just stay in bed?

Charlie Stone
Charlie Stone

Charlie Stone is an author and journalist who has worked for the BBC, several national newspapers in the UK and international media.

Charlie Stone is an author and journalist who has worked for the BBC, several national newspapers in the UK and international media.

Now football and fishing are so perilous they require health warnings and safety exams, maybe it’s better we just stay in bed?
A brain expert says footballs should carry health warnings and headers should be banned, and a local council wants anglers to sit a health and safety exam before fishing. The British state is now more nannying than Mary Poppins.

Just stay in bed, honestly; it's way too dangerous out there to even lay your insulated ultra-grip slippers upon the bedroom floor. Life’s a warzone! Pretty much anything could kill you, zap you or chop bits off you at any moment.

The rug, be careful on that rug! Then there’s that slightly raised area of floor in the hallway. You could trip and break your neck!

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And, oh my Lord ... the kitchen! Making a morning cup of coffee is simply way too dangerous, all that boiling water and electricity. Maybe a couple of slices of toast to go with it? Forget about it - heat, electricity, knife, butter, and you might drop that plate and thereby create a lethal weapon. 

A quick shower? That’s insane!

Yup. It’s safer to just stay in bed. But? What about bed sores? Aren’t they dangerous too? They can fester and get infected and you might have to get a buttock amputated … aaaaagh!

Afterall loads more injuries happen at home and doing leisure pursuits than are caused by car smashes and industrial accidents, that’s a simple statistical fact.

Life, though. Aren’t you supposed to bump up against people and bang into things? Isn’t that part of the game? Life’s inherently dangerous. And if you really need to paste warning signs and instructions all over the place to make your way through a day then, maybe, you’re pretty much dead already. 

And karma being a fundamental law of the universe with a perverse sense-of-humour, for sure something unexpected will get you. There’s sure to be a loose slate on the roof, poised to fall the minute you close the front door and lop your head off as efficiently as an executioner’s axe.

If you really are a brave or foolhardy soul and actually do make it outside, say to play football or go fishing, then - truly - you’re doomed. An expert on dementia has suggested that all footballs be sold with a health warning and that heading the ball should be banned altogether.

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“We are at a point in this current data to suggest that footballs should be sold with a health warning saying, ‘Repeated heading of a football may lead to an increased risk of dementia’,” said Prof Willie Stewart of the University of Glasgow. “I would not fall into the comfort zone of thinking modern balls are somehow changing the risks - the risks could actually be higher. Unlike other dementia and other degenerative diseases, we know what the risk factor is here. It is entirely preventable.”

Yikes! The study found that goalkeepers - goalies rarely head the ball - are four times less likely than other footballers to develop a degenerative brain issue (although, as Peter Cech can attest, they do run the risk of being kicked in the head) . Defenders - those dopes, they head the ball loads - were five times more likely to have a problem later in life. I was always crap at heading the ball, I invariably missed, so I reckon I’m safe.

Oh and, I’m just throwing this out there, maybe that’s why so many of those football pundits on the telly are, well, just a little bit dim and repeat only a handful of stock phrases? ‘Football, it’s very much a game of two halves,’ Etcetera.

Maybe I’ll just go fishing instead? A slow meander along the pier, spear a worm with a hook and chuck it into the sea and await a bite. You can’t do that! Oh no. No, no, no! 

Anglers in Dover have been fishing off a pier down there for over a century. Normally the biggest security risk was only the tall tales that other fishermen would tell later down the Cinque Port Arms, the nearest pub. ‘It was THIS big!’ or ‘I once had one of them killer whales on my hook.’ 

Not anymore. Now these fine anglers need to pass a health and safety exam and even hire security before trying to reel in a catch.

Stiff new rules have been set out by the Port of Dover authority, which blames the change on “Covid safety and the security of its operational areas”. If members of the Dover Sea Angling Association want to fish off Admiralty Pier, they’ll have to pass police checks, sit a health and safety exam, provide two negative Covid tests and shell out for four security guards.

It’s kind of difficult to cut a fishing line with your teeth, but knives and scissors are also being banned by the fussing bureaucrats.

Local anglers are, understandably, not too chuffed about this state of affairs. It’s hard to argue with chairman Richard Yates’s claim that the new rules are “completely over the top”, and that “it’s like they’ve sat in a room to try and work out what would be the hardest for us to achieve”.

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Well, I guess The Time of Covid-19 was always gonna supercharge the already fussing and fannying Nanny State and encourage bureaucratic bores to slap warning signs onto anything and everything so, fishing and football have made it into the danger zone, joining a long list that recently added everything from a possible sugar tax to a ban on wood-burning stoves.

That’s it then, I’m staying in bed… until they slap a warning sign on that, too.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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