Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Preventing Accidents

Did you know that there's a Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents?

It's been going for over 80 years which means they've spent a lot of time thinking about accidents and how to prevent them. It also means that they must've covered all the good ones - getting runover, frayed electrical wires and rogue rakes in the garden – years ago so you've got to feel for the new people when they come in:


A group of ROSPA people sit at a large conference table looking officious. A young man enters. He's obviously nervous and an OHP sheet flutters in his hand.

CHIEF: Ahhh, Darren. Everyone, this is Darren. He's our brand new Ideas Man!

The rest of the table say hello.

CHIEF: So then, Darren, How's your first week been?

DARREN: Ah, er. It's been ... yes ... I've had a lot of ideas and ...

CHIEF: Speak up, boy.

DARREN: I've had a lot of ideas, but ... most of them, well they seem to have been prevented already.

CHIEF: Surely not. Darren, there are accidents every day. Hundreds of our good citizens are hurt in a way that Could Have Been Prevented. Take Steve, here. Steve came to us fresh out of university. He felt the same way as you when he first started. It took some hard work, but now he’s one of our top Accident Identifiers and has written paragraphs for our website on some of the most common accidents and how to prevent them. Haven’t you, Steve? Tell Darren some of your idenfitications.

STEVE: I bought paper cuts to the attention of office managers everywhere. I elevated the papercut to Accident Book status.

CHIEF: And Barbara here. Barbara: tell Darren what you have done.

BARBARA: I single-handedly campaigned for the burp-less hot water bottle. Words from my memo are imprinted in rubber around the mouth of all Boots water bottles.

CHIEF: Lydia?

LYDIA: If it weren’t for me, no-one would know what sawdust could do in school corridors. I prevented many skid-related accidents.

CHIEF: And I, myself, my most recent work as Chief of ROSPA was to add the warning label to nutmeg. Nutmeg can be a loose cannon, my boy. An accident waiting to happen for any wayward teen.

Darren smiles nervously.

CHIEF: So then. Let’s have a look at your first week of thoughts.

Darren switches on the OHP. The room fills with white light and the omnipotent whirr of the OHP fan. He slides the sheet onto the plate and scrawly black handwriting fills the far wall.

CHIEF (reading): One: “Fingers getting stuck in holes …” [sighs] Yes we’ve done that one … John championed the Finger Hole issue back in the 60s.

BARBARA: Wait, Chief! Carry on, I think he’s got something.

CHIEF: What? Okay. [reading] “Fingers getting stuck in holes on the TV control pad where the volume control button used to be but has subsequently fallen off.”


CHIEF: Darren, I think you’re onto something there…

LYDIA: It’s the perfect combination of stress, skin invasion and the threat of electrocution! It’s perfect!

CHIEF: [reading] “Stumbling at the bottom of the stairs when you think there’s one more step left but there isn’t.”

STEVE: It reminds me of when I started. All that youthful enthusiasm and wild imagination.

BARBARA: [reading] “Eating a too wide, too crusty French stick leaving cuts that make eating crisps awkward and increase the possibility of coldsores.” He gets it, Chief, he gets it!

Chief strides over to Darren.

CHIEF: Welcome to ROSPA, Darren. You’re going to go far!

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