Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Traditional British event held in defiance of ban by "safety" regulators

One competitor nearly loses it

Hundreds of daredevils gathered on a steep hillside today for the first-ever 'unofficial' cheese rolling contest - after the historic event was axed over health and safety fears. Runners and spectators met at Cooper's Hill near Brockworth in Gloucestershire to carry on the tradition which sees competitors chase a 7lb wheel of Double Gloucester down a 200-yard incline.

The Whitsun cheese roll had been held annually for nearly two centuries until it was banned earlier this year because it was deemed too dangerous. But fans of the tradition vowed to keep it going and hundreds ignored official warnings by attending this year's event.

Police said there would be no dedicated medical help for casualties and that the unofficial contests could jeopardise the chance of an official event happening next year under a different format. But the roll still attracted around 300 people with visitors travelling from as far afield as Holland to witness the eccentric tradition.

Competitor Nima Nasseri, a 30-year-old doctor from Sheffield, ran for the first time in the contest and described the experience as 'painful'. He said: 'I really enjoyed competing. For a contest that was supposed to be banned there certainly were a lot of people there. 'I can sort of understand why it was banned, as there is an element of danger, but it was great fun.

'It was a bit painful though, I've got a few scratches and what feels like carpet burns. 'There seemed to be a few injuries this year, but nothing serious. I'm a doctor but luckily I didn't need to treat anyone.'

Six times cheese-rolling champion Chris Anderson, 22, visited the site the previous day to clear the hill and do a trial run down the slope. He said: 'It's just tradition, and for me it's hard to stay away. I still totally support the organisers in their bid to bring it back next year.'

This year's official event was axed after 18 people were injured last year - ten of whom were not even competitors but spectators. There are dozens of injuries every year among the men and women who hurl themselves down the hill in a bid to catch the cheese, but these are mainly minor.

However, the sheer number of people flooding in to watch the event - up to 10,000 people - led to increased concern from the police and councils. A police spokeswoman said: 'Gloucestershire Constabulary and all partners, including the Cheese Rolling Committee, strongly advised against participation in any unofficial event taking place on the hill. 'Unlike in previous years, there are no dedicated on-site medical facilities or rescue organisations to assist with casualty recovery.

'We understand the Cheese Rolling Committee and their partners are now committed to working hard to ensure that next year's event can take place in a safe and organised manner.'

The competition, which dates back hundreds of years, involves participants chasing a 7lb Double Gloucester cheese down the hill in a series of races. The winner of each race wins the cheese. In 1997 at least 33 people were injured and treated by St John's Ambulance.


On the endangered list: free-range children

Dens, dams and the call of the wild are being denied to our young. Conservation bodies and parents are to blame

The opening words of Kipling’s public school novel Stalky & Co echo sadly today. “In summer,” he begins, “all right-minded boys built huts in the furze-hill behind the College — little lairs whittled out of the heart of the prickly bushes, full of stumps, odd root-ends and spikes, but, since they were strictly forbidden, palaces of delight.” Eheu fugaces, as their Beaks [teachers] would say. Look back in sadness this Bank Holiday, and observe too many children who — adept as they are at video games and vogueing around the mall — will never make a den in heath or hedge.

OK, Stalky and his friends are dated, physically brutal, emotionally repressed embryo soldiers of the colonial Raj who mainly use their furze dens to smoke pipes, thus simultaneously risking heathland fires and lung cancer. These are not flawless role models for a cautious, neurotic, feminised, multicultural century.

Yet envy Kipling’s collegers this one thing: that amid the root-ends and prickles they could whittle and hack their own small bit of destiny, beholden to nobody and following only their own native wit. It is not a privilege extended to many children today. Sir David Attenborough spoke out last week — apropos laws against picking up fossils or even the most common wild plants — about the alienation of modern children from raw nature, which he fears will risk losing us a generation of naturalists. He himself was a wild-roaming child whose fascination with nature grew from getting close to it, mainly uninterrupted, making his own discoveries.

He is right. Farm children, or offspring of the affluent classes with big private gardens or estates, may still climb trees, dam streams, make dens, dig clay and observe creatures in their miniature jungles — provided their parents are not afraid to let them get dirty. Lucky children go crabbing at Walberswick, brush ponies and overturn dinghies in the mud: but even they tend to live under a level of supervision that would have driven Stalky crazy with frustrated rage, and often have less expected of them than is healthy.

When I used to take other families’ children sailing with mine, I always made them get their boat back upstream and tied down before they had a shower and tea, however muddy the operation and however lashing the rain. When a more modern mother and her son were in charge of the day, the lads righted their capsized dinghy all right, but then were promptly shooed off to tidy up while she and I — at her insistence — dragged the dinghy to its proper place and covered it as if we were their valets. I felt the day’s experience was incomplete, even for 12-year-olds, but at least the boys had confronted raw nature in the shape of an unexpected mudbank and a summer squall. And they had seen a water rat stick its head out of the bank and show its teeth. That was a talking point for days.

For children with fewer chances, and no gardens or outdoor hobbies, opportunities dwindle all the time. This is not only because of parental worries. Take the family out for the day and you will find that the wild countryside available to you is increasingly run by conservation bodies that do not consider human beings to be a legitimate part of “Nature”, but a regrettable intrusion. Even gathering pine cones or — in one notable case — letting the dog bring a stick home from a woodland walk can lead to accusations of damage and theft. Let your child try making a Stalky & Co den in some patch of National Trust or RSPB furze and see what happens. Outrage! Vandalism! Besides, a boy with any kind of decent knife now is not considered to have his mind on whittling, but on murder.

A Famous Five fantasist leaving the marked pathway to crawl after an imaginary smuggler will soon be reproved for potentially disturbing birds, even if none is nesting anywhere near. Contact with nature must be codified into supervised pond-dipping expeditions and guided walks. These have their place, but they are not what Sir David meant: not freewheeling, not creative, not a natural curious interaction of the human young with the living world.

It is not just naturalists we are losing, but a generation of creative engineers, architects and problem-solvers. Computer games are obviously limited, being virtual environments designed by other minds; but the same goes for educational toys and kits. Lego bricks interlock because someone in a factory designed and made them to do just that, and nothing else. Meccano, K’nex, Stickle Bricks and the rest achieve what they were made for. But make a bow and arrow in a wood and you rapidly learn about qualities of flexibility, straightness, texture and weight; if no bird has dropped a feather for your arrow, you experiment with broad flat leaves. Dig some clay and dam a streamlet, playing at being a beaver, and you learn more about “resistant materials” than in a whole term of producing desktop-published GCSE tech folders. Devise a crawl-through passage in a hedge or gorse patch, and you apprehend architectural facts about spaces and obstructions, turning circles and headroom, as well as observing the diversity of hedgerow creatures, and tasting the drama of being hissed at by a grass snake or surprised by a toad.

But the sad thing is that unless your parents or school are rich enough to own the hedge or heath, your interaction with it will be restricted to an information board with a conservation logo on it, which you are permitted to stand and read, on the marked path. Only on the beach are you free to create sandcastles. Even then, some authorities will ban you from taking shells and pebbles home.

Mucking about in natural surroundings should not be a privilege of wealth. Grass stains and bramble scratches are every child’s birthright. Wise adults have always known this, and resisted the urge to supervise and ban. That wonderful history of childcare manuals, Dream Babies, quotes Lizzie Harker from 1903: “Nowadays there are unhappy children who are studied all day long, whose plays are arranged for them always with a view to their ‘development’; who may not even make mud pies in seclusion but must perforce and in gangs shape something out of grey India rubber and sit at a table to do so. What can they know, poor things, of the joys and terrors to be found in a dwarf-infested shrubbery, just at sunset, on a chill October day?”


Parents Deny Kids Are Breaking Child Labor Laws By Working At Family's Pizzeria

The owners of a family pizzeria in Connecticut are fighting back after the state's Department of Labor began investigating them for allegedly violating child labor laws because the children help out on weekends.

The Nuzzos, the owners of a family pizzeria in Connecticut are fighting back after the state's Department of Labor began investigating them for allegedly violating child labor laws because the children help out on weekends.

Michael and his wife Migdalia Nuzzo filed a complaint in federal court on May 20 claiming that the Department of Labor was violating their civil rights.

"[The Department of Labor] is attacking my culture, my heritage and my tradition. This is the way we were raised," Nuzzo told ABCNews.com. "I've learned more working for my father than I did at a four-year college where I got a degree in financial accounting."

In his complaint, Nuzzo denied he did anything wrong by trying to teach their children the family business, a 55-year-old pizzeria named Grand Apizza in Clinton, Conn. "Michael helps me make pizza, and he's an excellent pizzaman just like I was when I was his age," said Michael Nuzzo of his 13-year-old son with the same name.

According to the Nuzzo's complaint, on May 12, a special investigator from the state's Department of Labor came to the restaurant to inform the Nuzzo family that, under child labor laws, their children "could not be seen assisting their parents" in the restaurant.

Connecticut Department of Labor spokeswoman Nancy Steffens confirmed to ABCNews.com that they went to the Nuzzo restaurant after receiving a tip. She declined to go into more detail about who may have sparked the investigation.

"The investigation is still underway and we were basically just providing outreach and education, to notify the family that children under the age of 14 are not allowed to work in a commercial establishment," said Steffens. "You can fine a restaurant but nothing like that was done. We were just letting them know the law."

The case has been turned over the state's Attorney General's office, who said in a statement that they are "carefully reviewing the allegations and facts surrounding the case," but that there has been no enforcement action taken against the Nuzzos.


Hidden epidemic of women beating up men

This report is from Australia but there have been similar reports from the USA and the UK -- though according to some feminists it never happens at all

WOMEN beating up their men - physically, emotionally or financially - has become a hidden epidemic because men are too scared of being labelled wimps if they cry for help.

A new study has found for male victims of "intimate partner abuse", the cumulative effect of repeat "knees in the nuts" or being heaped with scorn is a damaging erosion of self-worth.

But a typical response to men who do complain is, "C'mon, you're a bloke - get over it".

Similar to the pattern of abuse of women by men, it often starts with verbal, financial and psychological abuse, but over time escalates to physical and sometimes even sexual abuse. The issue is even more under-reported for men than women, because men fear either being seen as wimps or not being believed, the study says.

Support services for abuse victims are skewed towards females, it adds.

Alfred Allan, Professor at Edith Cowan University and co-author of Intimate Partner Abuse of Men, said: "Physical abuse isn't as big a problem for males as females, and when a male assaults a female, it's generally more severe, but there are male victims out there who are falling through the cracks."

The study is based on interviews with male victims and service providers working in the field of domestic abuse. "She would actually hit him with the pan . . . throw reasonably large objects at him . . . punch him to the point of bruising," one service provider recalled of a client's interview. "I've lost count of how many times she's kneed me in the nuts," a male victim said.

The report notes the growth in abuse of men by their partner.

Psychologist and author in men's mental health Elizabeth Celi describes the abuse of men by their spouse as a "silent phenomenon". She says women perpetrators tend to combine verbal and emotional abuse of their partner with any physical violence.

"Given women's verbal and emotional literacy, a viper tongue can really maim a man's sense of self-worth," Dr Celi said.

"Men also face the social stigma of being a victim. Not only is he questioning his own masculinity and identity, unfortunately he is more often than not disbelieved or disregarded."



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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