Thursday, November 04, 2010

Risky Stuff

I wonder if anyone is looking?

In all sorts of places around the world there comes a time, usually in an otherwise little known town or village, where people decide to say 'Sod off' to risk. And whether they then chase a fully grown cheese down a hill, play ruleless football, have a massive tomato fight or decide to let a few bulls loose in the main street the result is the same - fun and injury.

I thought about this afresh as a few friends told me they were planning to go to Ottery St Mary for the tar barrels festival this week.

As nutters go these are brazils. A bunch of people will set alight to barrels of tar and carry them quickly through the town. The job of the spectator is best summarised as get-the-hell-out-of-the-way.

I think we accept the need to be molly-coddled by legislation a lot of the time. Without speed limits we probably would misjudge a safe velocity.

We also make very bad communal judgements about the inherent risks in things such as letting our kids walk to school. In fact the chance of a child being picked up by a stranger at my local schools is considerably less than that of being mowed down by a badly-driven people carrier which is shepherding children to their lessons.

And it is well known that the chance of winning the lottery jackpot is less than the chance of being killed on the way to buying a ticket (so play online or don't waste your £1).

But every now and again we just want to gob in the face of statistical analysis and do something inherently risky, daft and, blimey, fun and survive.

I don't think the jumping over the bonfire competition was incredibly wise when our then curate suggested it, and went first, back in 1971. But I understand the desire to do it. The question is almost 'Can I taunt the gods?'

And so we need to balance all the celebrities caught doing inappropriate things with the, presumably greater, number who got away with it. They wanted to risk it. Had an affair with a Prime Minister? Run naked in the woods? Gone in hard for a 40/60 tackle? Eaten food well past its best-before date? I think you are all part of the same spectrum. Playing with risk is human.

I'm banking my whole life on a person who used to be dead. I sometimes sing, 'Send your fire Lord.'

What do you do? I'm eating an old yogurt, naked.


Becky said...

So, guessing the curate didn't make it then.

And if he went first, I'm thinking the one who went second was more than dabbling with a little risk.

St said...

No, the curate made it and Syd went second. Both survived.