Friday, February 22, 2008

No Sympathy for Alice Miles

Sorry and all that, but ...

In the Comment section of today's London Times, M(r)s Miles berates the Government, Ofstead and the local council for the mind-numbing bureaucracy involved in 'running' a local nursery school.  Now, whereas I certainly have some sympathy for normal people caught up in all this, alongside the trials and tribulations incumbent in just being the parent of a small child (Mrs S-E was chairwoman of the local primary school board until school boards were abolished up here in favour of "parents' councils"), I cannot bring myself to find one iota for a journalist.

Whenever there is an accident involving a kid, especially where there is a tragedy, the tabloids of the Murdoch stable have been in the forefront of a broad press stampede, bellowing in high point capitals, "Something MUST be Done".  Short of "The Matrix"-type capsules, or DK's "Toynbee Podding Hutch (TM)", you cannot stop small children choking, eating mud or worms, falling over (even off of flat balconies), wandering into the road, etc.  It cannot be done.  They are small, agile, fast and possessed of both the intellect that has allowed Hom Sap to achieve so much and the low cunning that does the same for squirrels.

So, Alice, I am afraid, you have brought it upon yourself.  The CRB checks for parents, the fees, the "Going Out For a Walk Policy" you so correctly, now, deride.  As "Columnist of the Year 2007"*, you are a poster child for the professional commentariat.  It is you, not the admittedly Stalinist tendencies of local government of all political persuasions, that has brought this upon this once-great country. 

Either just shut the eff up about it and bear it like we all have to or, better (but you won't), start doing something about it.  Campaign to unwind the red tape - not just when it affects you, and not on the inside pages, but on Page 1 when the next set of parents are grieving for their beautiful child who has drowned in a stream / broken their neck / been abducted.  Throw your skinny latté into the face of your colleagues who are calling for mandatory 6-foot 1.8288 metre fences, child tracking implants or other obscenities.  Campaign for more freedom, not less.  And keep your noses and your cameras out of the family's grief.

Then complain.

* Exactly whose "Columnist of the Year 2007"?  Your bio doesn't say and, if the award had any real prestige, you would expect it to?  Google is remarkably silent too.  Pollyanna won the "British Press Awards" version, as ably reported here.  Ahh - eventually, the BBC "What the Papers Say" awards.  Well the BBC thinks they "are now a fixture in the British press calendar" and are "traditionally handed out by major politicians."  Lucky you!

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