It's been quite a while since I last went to the Saturday morning Breakfast Club (a group of us get together to enjoy a light breakfast and discuss that morning's newspapers for those of you who don't already know) so I thought I'd better drag myself from bed and go this week-end. Nothing much in Saturday's papers - they were largely devoted to two of our MP's, ex-primeminster Tony Blair who has just released his autobiography and another who is involved in some kind of a scandal or other - but there were several articles in Friday's Daily Telegraph that caught my eye.
Having gone all POLITICALLY CORRECT here in England certain things have had to change. Some schools are no longer able to call a blackboard a blackboard and long gone is the black sheep in the popular children's nursery rhyme Baa Baa Black Sheep - apparently he/she (we don't want to be seen as being sexist here) has apparently been replaced by a rainbow sheep. However the latest casualty in all of this seems to be ......
The kookaburra. Yes, it seems we are not the only nation to be worrying about upsetting people with our use of words - a school in Australia it seems has removed the word 'gay' from the much loved children's song Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree AND replaced it with the word 'fun'.
The headmaster (surely that should be headteacher?) of said school said "It uses gay and I just suggested to kids that nowadays that can mean different things." "Political correctness is very much to the fore in schools, what's appropriate and what isn't, and sometimes we rightly or wrongly err on the side of caution." - Nick Squires.
Sticking with animals .....
(But, wait for it ........) One even unveiled a police tractor which is decked out in police livery and, despite a top speed of 25mph, has a flashing blue light.
Police will display it at farming shows to highlight the fight against agricultural crime. (Surely a cardboard cut-out would have done the job just as well!)
One Assistant Chief Constable defended the total of £68,698 spent by his force. "Following the launch of the campaign, public confidence increased from 44.9% at the end of 2008-09 to 51.7% 12 months later, along with 36,760 fewer victims of crime." (I'm just waiting for the tractor to be stolen and become another crime statistic.)
(However) The TaxPayers Alliance accused police chiefs of wasting public funds on "gimmicks."
As a Second World War veteran who likes to keep fit, 84-year-old James Gresty thought hopping on his bike was a sensible way to collect his pension.
(WRONG!!!!!!!!) He ended up being pursued through a shopping street by (Not one, not two, not three but .....) four police officers, two of them in a van, after they insisted he had ridden on the pavement (something Mr Gretsy denies).
Calling for 'back-up' from two police constables who drove a police van through the precinct (surely more dangerous than a bike) Mr Gresty claims "They were carrying on as if I had been guilty of a serious criminal offense. They were being aggressive, rude and heavy handed all over an issue of whether or not I was cycling on the pavement."
"They didn't even get that right either. God knows why four police had to be involved. I'm an 84-year-old man not a teenage hoodie." - Richard Edwards.
I agree, hardly the crime of the century - perhaps they should offer Mr Gresty a fridge magnet as a way of apology.