‘Please avoid enjoying yourself’

WE TOOK Ronnie and Reggie to one of their favourite places this week: Glasgow Museum of Transport. It’s jam-packed with old buses, subway trains, trams, steam engines and classic cars.

But what it has more of than anything is signs warning you not to touch anything. Given that young children seem to be fascinated by all things transport-related, it seems particularly mean to deprive them of the chance, for example, to stand in the cab of a steam engine, or to sit in the driving seat of a vintage Bentley.

But no, that would be far too interesting. “Look but don’t touch,” is an injunction that might as well be “Look but don’t dare enjoy yourself”.

As it happens, Ronnie and Reggie loved just looking and didn’t seem too disappointed when we had to explain that they couldn’t sit in a particular car, or go inside an interesting-looking carriage. But they’re young, and I wouldn’t be surprised if, when they’re just a few years older, they’ll be instantly bored by such restrictions. And I wouldn’t blame them.

Meanwhile, the museum seems to have committed sacrilege against All Things Who: a red Tardis? Some people have no respect…


Filed under Doctor Who, Family life, Whimsy

19 responses to “‘Please avoid enjoying yourself’

  1. Chris' Wills

    When I first visited the transport museum, a long time ago I admit, I was allowed even encouraged by the staff to ride the footplates.

    The old cars not allowed to sit in, which makes sense.

    Perhaps you could have a word with the jobsworths in the council, I suspect it is fear of being sued if the child manages to hurt themselves and their parents sue.

  2. James

    I can only see the deadly hand of Labour written all over this, including the Tardis in your company colours. Until you witness it for yourself, you don’t seem to realise how this health and safety culture spoils our lives.
    Tom didn’t you as a boy, climb trees, swim in the local river, go pond dipping, all unsupervised.
    Sure, we are had near misses and bumps and bruises, but didn’t that help to set our internal being to gauge the parameters of danger and consolidate our common sense.
    Strangely enough, the authorities seem to be unable to stop the youth of today joyriding in cars and shooting or stabbing each other. Pastimes, which are by nature far more deadly than those we participated in.

  3. I spent a merry hour or so at your Transport Museum last summer whilst my wife bothered herself with the art in the nearby Kelvingrove Gallery (I never did really get the hang of art galleries except as places at which to attempt to pick up slightly earnest girls. But I enjoyed Kelvingrove’s temporary exhibits about Muslims in Glasgow – and the building’s pretty terrific).

    When they’re a bit older, you should bring your tribe to the National Waterways museum in Gloucester. Having been brought up in the bossy 1950s and 60s when “no touching or smiling” was the rule in most London museums (apart from the occasional handle that one was allowed to turn in the Science Museum for educational purposes only) I was horrified when I took my nephews to the waterways place and they started grabbing exhibits and enjoying themselves. Fortunately a friendly curator was on hand to explain that such behaviour is encouraged nowadays…

  4. I visited the old site in Pollokshields many times as a boy. It was a great place, but I don’t remember being allowed on any of the exhibits. Maybe my parents were afraid I’d wreck something.

    On one or two visits to Blackpool I saw several old trams from all over Britain which you could hop on like the regular trams. I don’t know if they still run them occasionally.

    You might want to check and try and swing next year’s conference to the town.

  5. Martin Cullip

    Your picture of the sign explains it all, those two ghastly words again. H&S really IS unnecessarily interfering in every tiny part of our lives and needs to be reigned in.

    The shame of it all is that most of it seems to be covering backsides to avoid being sued. Surely instead of the HSE putting us through all this nonsense and making life miserable for everyone, steps could be taken to make it more difficult for people to make frivolous compensation claims. A sense of personal responsibility for one’s own actions is in need of being restored.

    eg. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/hampshire/7477461.stm

  6. PS – before the swivelled-eyed brigade members claim that this is all a New Labour plot to stop people having fun, they should remember that H&S legislation only really came into its own in the 1980s & 90s.

    But it must be conceded that a tendency towards over-caution by managers who are, perhaps irrationally, fearful of being sued was given a boost by the “no win no fee” legislation that has encouraged ambulance chasing lawyers.

    The perception has grown that we live in a compensation culture although the number of successful personal injury claims is still very low. The press, bless them, like to give a different impression…

  7. richard

    A quick google shows that police boxes in Glasgow were red, not blue.

  8. John

    Most of Glasgow’s Police Boxes were originally painted RED and this one comes from the streets of Glasgow and is therefore the right colour.
    Dr. Who nicked a blue Police Box from London, not Glasgow.

  9. I did not know that; I stand corrected. But for the record, The Doctor (not “Doctor Who”) didn’t nick a police box – his Tardis’s chameleon circuit just made it look like a police box.

  10. I only remember seeing blue boxes in 60’s and 70’s Glasgow – the few that remained.

    Maybe they were originally red. Any links?

    Has Dr Who really been travelling in a stolen vehicle all these years?

  11. Of course he has – but he nicked it off the Timelords, not the Metroplitan Police.

  12. John

    Aaahh Tom… you’ve just destroyed my boyhood memories of the first few episodes of Dr. Who.
    I always thought the Dr (William Hartwell?) found the Police Box in a scrapyard and turned it into the Tardis.
    My life will never be the same again!

  13. Re. my previous post: sorry, The Doctor (not “Doctor Who”).

    Did you know the BBC now owns the copyright to the classic police box design?

    I think that’s quite interesting.

  14. richard

    possibly worth pointing out that a further googling suggests that the end-credits (and various characters) refer to him as “Doctor Who” rather than just “The Doctor” on numerous occasions.

    On a lighter note, is there any update on the reshuffle yet? Not boding well for John Hutton I gather…

  15. James & Brian – much as I know Tories love perpetuating the myth that it’s Health & Safety legislation that prevents all these activities, it’s simply not true. We have very little health and safety legislation in this country and in industries like construction, for example, there are still many unnecessary deaths every year. We need more H&S not less.

    However I’d be more than happy to have less of the real cause of this kind of thing – compensation culture. That’s a difficult thing to deal with though and I’m not sure where to start. Certainly it’s much more difficult to deal with than just blaming Health & Safety leigislation.

  16. richard

    Or Hillary Benn.

    Sky’s mooting him as a possible Transport Secretary but they don’t seem convinced.

  17. Simon

    We’re back to the War Machines now aren’t we…

    Nothing sets my teeth on edge more than him being called Doctor Who. So I choose to ignore every instance of it happening!

  18. You’re a bit harsh on museums. Kids would wreck the switches, door pulls and other bits in a classic car in a morning.

    If the Kray’s like cars, then the Science Museum has a Frogeye Sprite which kids and dads can climb into and over to their hearts’ content. The Museum of Childhood in Beffnul Green (as it should be pronounced) is amazingly interactive and kept the Class 23 amused for an afternoon. It alsop has some sci fi displays which should keep you diverted.

    Sorry to be boringly practical and unpolitical.

  19. Martin Cullip

    Tim F, “We need more H&S not less.”

    I fully understand and agree the need for making sure people are safe at work, but how about this from our own H&S manual that we are required to produce to ensure work from local authorities (we have to have this!).

    “Although the danger of mobile phones is not proven, staff must alternate between ears when using a mobile phone while operating …”

    Need MORE H&S? Sorry, I have to disagree.

    On the construction industry, I have a very good friend of 20 years who is a site Manager for a high quality builder in London, he says that a lot of his time is spent returning to builders who he has to tell what H&S procedures to follow. THEY don’t want to work that way as it hampers their productivity, HE doesn’t want to have to spend his time chasing them up and even sacking them if they don’t follow daft H&S rules like, for example, not painting lintels without a ladder in case they pull a muscle, wearing latex gloves while mixing cement. If the worker chooses to do his job that way, why the problem if he has been advised of the risks? It’s hardly life-threatening? And he is making his own choice.

    One of my kids yesterday lost half of his after-school football class, it had to be cut into two groups as 22 children was apparently too many for one coach to instruct at one time – the reason given was H&S. Eh?

    You’re right about closing the blame culture, but I wouldn’t have thought it would be as difficult as you suggest. How can it be? Labour are already dispensing with the idea of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and ‘right to trial by jury’. By comparison, stopping frivolous compensation claims should be a doddle.

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