30 January 2011
Yesterday afternoon there was a knock at the door and there were our good neighbours, Tom and Dee, with their three dear little girls. They presented Alice with a box of delicious Â home-made heart-shaped biscuits and three dear little cards, drawn and written personally by each of the girls, commiserating with Alice over the loss of the donkey. For as long as they can remember these little girls have given Mouse, the donkey, carrots and other titbits, through the adjoining hedge. Alice had telephoned the parents to give them the bad news and to warn them that the children Â might see the donkey being hoisted into a horsebox and she did not want them to be alarmed. Having said that, what a lovely gesture from our neighbours.
During the night, before the commentary on the cricket began, I listened to a very interesting discussion about the conflict between religious belief and the rights of persons under the Human Rights Act. (HRA). I shall not go into any specific details, Â so as not to give offence to any of my readers, but the point being debated, in a nutshell, was that â€˜should any person be bound, against their religious beliefs, Â to commit some act, or make some concession because not to do so would infringe another person’s so-called human rights and leave the refusor open to prosecution from the refuseeâ€™.
There are obviously instances where a refusal can give offence or can be considered to be discriminatory, either sexual, racial, political, religious etc. Here again, under our various Acts and legislation, covering such forms of discrimination, the person or persons being complained of could be subject to court action. Almost every such action today, that is publicised in our newspapers, seems to me, at any rate, generally to lean more towards the complainantâ€™s human rights rather than what â€˜the man on the Clapham omnibusâ€™ would consider was common sense.
One of the people, on the programme, pointed out, for example, that it is not discrimination, or against a person’s human rights, to refuse accommodation in say, a hotel or B&B, to all redheads. Also, I believe landlords of licensed premises have an absolute right of refusal to serve anyone, without giving reasons. At least that used to be the law, whether that has changed as a result of the HRA,. I know not. Of course if the person who wasÂ refused service, or thrown out, was neither drunk nor being disruptive in any way and they were of the opinion that the reason for the landlords action was as a result of their colour, class, sexual proclivity or creed, then they obviously would have a right to challenge the landlord in court but, I suspect, in such a case the burden of proof would not lie with the landlord.
I just wonder how many of the other 28 members of the EU are as scrupulous as we are in this country about observing the HRA. I do know that the HRA, the Health and Safety (H & S) legislation and similar discriminatory statutes have made a nonsense of what, in the past, would have been considered common sense. I recall one instance of a lady who ran a local riding school who was told that she could not assist a 13-year-old girl to dismount in case, in doing so, she touched her breasts. She could, however, stand by the horse and in the event that the girl fell off, Â attempt to catch her! What, if in attempting to cushion her fall, the girl fell awkwardly, twisting her leg under her, and therefore sustained more injury than perhaps she would have done otherwise? Would the riding school proprietor then be liable for damages for the girls injury? There are thousands of other examples of such ludicrous situations, many of which are responsible for third parties, such as teachers or scoutmasters, from taking groups of children out on adventure or field trips for fear of any child being injured, however slightly, and being sued by the parents.
The grazed knee or the odd Â broken leg or arm was par for the course for youngsters who roamed free in the countryside, in my youth, but now we cotton-wool our young to such an extent against possible injury or germs that they must be far more vulnerable than my generation.
Isn’t it about time we considered abolishing, or please modifying or qualifying the HRA, the H & S Â legislation and some of the discriminatory law and rely, as we always did in the past, on good common sense and leave it to our judges to decide whether or not there is a good cause of action if someone is offended or injured in some way or other by a third party?
I realise that I have moved away from the original point I started with but what about the ludicrous advertisements warning parents about children catching any germs whatsoever and spraying every surface with some proprietary product to kill 99.9% of all known germs. What about the old adage about everyone â€˜ should eat a peck of dirt before they dieâ€™. Good common sense, as it is nature’s way of strengthening the body’s immune system. I can give you a personalÂ example. Son Miles was born in Aden, now part of the Yemen,Â Southern Arabia. My â€™boyâ€™, Ahmed, a Yemani of indeterminate age, went into the market every morning to purchase green coffee beans, which he roasted to produce a fresh pot of coffee, for me, Â each morning. Apart from the normal fresh Â produce for sale in the market there were numerous sheep and goats and, as a result, Â the marketplace was pretty filthy underfoot. Ahmed traditionally wore rubber flip-flops for these excursions. I went into the kitchen one morning to see my few months old son Miles, in his playpen, knawing on one of these flip-flops – I think that he was teething at the time. I have no doubt that the germs that he picked up on that occasion did his immune system a power of good judging by the size and physique of the lad today. I know I have strayed completely from the point from which I started but it is all food for thought.
Having listened, during the night, to the Australian innings in the fifth of the cricket Â ODIâ€™s, I settled down to watch the England innings on my laptop and, our man Murray, in the final of the Australian Open tennis, on the television. I can only describe the performance of both our cricketers and our tennis player as mediocre, we lost both. The only person worthy of comment, in the cricket, was young Woakes who took 6 wickets for 45 runs.
Iâ€™ve been ill. But Iâ€™m still here, reading.
And my donkeys still bray, and my horses whinny, as they look toward the uk, in your direction.
Our mood remains elegiac, as we lament the loss of Mouse, from our physical world.
Ahâ€¦to have a loving soul bring us warm water, to savor, on a cold winterâ€™s night.
Thank you, Alice.