01
Dec
09

Not even a little bit surprised

When safety regulations decree that your town’s Christmas tree must be a conic section covered in Astroturf, you’ve gone a bit too far.

I am shitting thee negative.  Here it is:

(Hat tip: Coyote Blog)

That’s so ugly it could be a modern-art masterpiece.  Wait; what if it is a modern-art masterpiece?  I’d better quote the article to show that it isn’t:

The 33ft structure turned out to be their Christmas tree, designed according to the principles of health and safety, circa 2009.Thus it has no trunk so it won’t blow over, no branches to break off and land on someone’s head, no pine needles to poke a passer-by in the eye, no decorations for drunken teenagers to steal and no angel, presumably because it would need a dangerously long ladder to place it at the top.

(Single-sentence paragraphs, run-on sentences, and broken comma-list structure.  Yep, that’s modern British journalism.  The next one’s better, though:)

Last year Poole boasted a Norwegian fir draped with strings of coloured lights. It cost £500 and continued a decades-old tradition. The replacement, which is constructed on a metal frame overlaid with what appears to be artificial grass, cost £14,000 and comes with built-in fairy lights and hidden speakers to play Christmas tunes that will put shoppers in the festive mood. But the only mood apparent among shoppers who saw the tree yesterday was a bad one.

There’s a darker side to that Norwegian fir that the article doesn’t mention ’til later.  It’s no mere holiday decoration; it’s a safety hazard:

“People think you can just go into the woods, chop down a tree and put it up in the high street but if it blows over and kills someone then somebody is liable,” he said.

“We are a coastal town and so we have strict health-and-safety guidelines around making the Christmas tree safe due to the high winds we suffer. We have to have guy ropes and hoardings to stop it from falling over and hitting somebody. The public didn’t like all the ropes and hoardings so we came up with the cone tree.”

So these bureaucrats, like others, are just acting under the incentives they’ve been given.  Mind you, Christmas tree bites can be pretty nasty:

Christmas trees are one of the most hazardous objects in the home, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. In 2002, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 1,000 people needed hospital treatment for injuries inflicted by trees. They ranged from being poked in the eye to back injuries caused by moving the trees around.

Wait, let me read that again.

Yep.

It really did say that, in Britain, “Christmas trees are one of the most hazardous objects in the home”.

One facepalm wasn’t enough.

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6 Responses to “Not even a little bit surprised”


  1. 1 aczarnowski
    December 2, 2009 at 06:10

    Watching the British circle is like gawking at a car crash. What mangled piece will appear next?

    • December 2, 2009 at 15:37

      That could be an ongoing contest: guess the next absurd regulation to come from the nanny state. Players could submit five suggestions, and gain points for each of their suggestions implemented over the next year. (Suggesting something that’s already been done, like “stab-proof” knives, would result in a penalty.)

      First thing that comes to mind: the wearing of Doc Martens will be banned, as it may project a “loutish” image.

  2. 3 kbiel
    December 3, 2009 at 14:55

    Is the image meant to be ironic? After all it is from the safety scissor version of Star Trek, replete with carpeted bridge, neutered Klingons, and a full time psychoanalyst for the captain and executive officer.

    • December 3, 2009 at 15:04

      Is the image meant to be ironic? After all it is from the safety scissor version of Star Trek, replete with carpeted bridge, neutered Klingons, and a full time psychoanalyst for the captain and executive officer.

      …and even the Neuteredext Generation characters facepalm at Britain’s antics, yes.

  3. 5 parappayo
    December 4, 2009 at 14:47

    Christmas trees are one of the most hazardous objects in the home, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

    It’s worth noting here that Christmas trees have historically been a major fire hazard. You’re basically looking at a big pile of tinder (especially if you’ve neglected to keep your tree in water) covered in electrical lights. If something is frayed and starts sparking, or if the lights get too hot… FOOM!

    Kitchen fires are pretty nasty too.

  4. December 6, 2009 at 01:18

    There’ll always be an England — not that you’ll recognize it.


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