Saturday, April 24, 2010

Crime and Fun-ishment

A couple of days ago I was enjoying the blue skies with, for the first time that I can remember, not a single vapour trail from high-flying jets thanks to the Icelandic volcano Eksvskdfmkjhsdfkj erupting and turning Europe into a no-fly zone.

It was quite peaceful.

Of course, there was an underlying current of worry for the UK, because it would've been a perfect time for an enemy invasion, what with our planes grounded and both our naval ships detailed to picking up stranded tourists from Spain. We would have been defenceless, allowing the intruding forces to fly unhindered over our land, to sail into our ports, and to launch their offensive.

And there are plenty of nations out there who covet our . . . er . . .

Actually, I can't think of anyone who would want to invade the UK anymore.

Why would they?

It'd cost them a fortune, they'd have to take on all the responsibilities of our declining industry, our debts, our crappy roads, our obsession with half-building housing estates, our empty factories and abandoned shop units, GMTV and, not least, our moaning.

We moan a lot.

The only country that might consider invading would be the French, and they'd only do it because it's been a while and they're probably due one now anyway, but they've got volcano-induced problems of their own.

I put those fears to the back of my mind, yet retained a psychological and very British DEFCON 2 status, willing to take on any invading army with a series of loud tuts and an occasional disapproving shake of my head. I then proceeded to enjoy the day.

To the park!

Giving the missus a spot of peace and quiet so she can feed our new baby without interruption from our son is a daily mission at the moment. So, thank goodness the local council provides playgrounds, which are not just hunting grounds for catholic priests, but also provide much needed distraction for a high-need child with more energy than the Large Hadron Collider.

A couple of minutes of the swings, then on the slide, followed by the see-saw and the climbing frame, concluding with some mad Brownian-motion-like running around, screaming as loudly and as squeakily as is humanly possible, then repeating all of the above until tired, hungry and/or very, very grumpy.

My son is even worse.

I think play parks are pretty standard the world over. Somewhere for the little primates to get in touch with their inner monkey.

Climbing frames are particularly popular, and we've got this battered old wooden one which appears to have slipped the usually all-encompassing net of health and safety compromise:

Hang on, what's that . . ?

Down in the corner of the neck-wrenching lattice.

Is that . . . a handcuff?

A rusty handcuff?

Yep. Definitely a rusty handcuff, which sounds like a euphemism for something I wouldn't want to do.

Or would I?

Anyway, I'm no council planner, but I don't think handcuffs are standard playground accoutrement.

Maybe in Brazil, but not in South West England.

This seemed a little disconcerting. I'm presuming there is a simple, innocent explanation for the presence of the rusty cuff, such as a naked man the night before his wedding experiencing a spot of affectionate humiliation at the hands of drunks whom, just hours before, he had thought of as his friends.

But it could have been something more . . . blogworthy.

And, with the magical application of imagination, it will be!

I reckon there was an insanely exciting police chase, culminating in one stalwart Peeler nabbing a rum sort, but having no time to take him down to the nick and process him with due diligence and attention to appropriate form filling, what with another shout occurring on his manor, and so 'cuffed him to the nearest convenient metal appliance ready to be dealt with at leisure.

Unfortunately, the resourceful blaggard chewed his own hand off to facilitate his escape. Now, he haunts the swings, scaring children by showing them his bloody, tooth-marked stump, gently swaying to and fro and wailing because he can't hold on very well these days.

Now that's what I'm talking about.

Realistically speaking, policing round here is generally undertaken by people called Police Community Support Officers, who fight crime by being paid half as much as coppers and not having powers of arrest.

I'm also not sure they're actually authorised to do any running.

So, maybe it wasn't that.

Maybe it was a new community-based punishment initiative, designed to alleviate crowding in jail. A bit like community service, where instead of locking them up, you get criminals to undertake a relevant punishment as part of paying their debt to society and rehabilitating them at the same time.

Graffiti artists clean local walls, shoplifters scour supermarket car parks and give any dropped items back to their owners, and murderers reanimate corpses in council-funded eerie castles on craggy peaks.

I suppose you could handcuff a paedophile to a climbing frame, because that would be like sewing up a fat person's gob and then locking them in a bakery.

Punishment indeed.


  1. bless your heart! i'm surprised no one has noticed that rusty cuff and ordered it removed as a safety hazard! xoxoxo

    (i will be snickering all day over y'all's similes! y'all have a twisted mind, but i like that about you!)

  2. Firstly ... congrats on the new baby! :)

    And I loved your description of what you imagined had occured with the rusty handcuff ... it was like The Sweeney meets Lord Byron.

    It made me chortle to read your theory on the UK being invaded, and made me think of an email I got this week which was all about security threat levels in the wake of all the nasty terrorist malarkey. This is what it said about the English:

    The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." The English have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies all but ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to a "Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was during the great fire of 1666.

    Sorry for the lengthy comment, but I thought you might enjoy it. And at least I left out the other countries mentioned ... you know, in the name of diplomatic, international relationships and all that.

  3. Our playgrounds on this side of the pond have lost all of their fun what with all of the rough or sharp edges removed, rubber mats placed underneath everything instead of a slab of concrete to break the fall, and not a single jungle gym in sight these days! How are children today supposed to learn about gravity without slipping off the top and hitting each bar cartoon-like on their fall to the jagged shards of glass at the bottom?

  4. The fellow it shackled might still be at large. Every playground should have its own dungeon to confine these villains securely.

  5. You sound way too familiar with the story behind that handcuff. One has to wonder. Hope new infanta progress well.

  6. Maybe it's an ominous warning to misbehaving children, like the playground equivalent of a head on a stick stationed on the beach of an island inhabited by savages.

    Head on a stick sounds kabobish. Head on a spear, that's what I was going for up there.

    Hilarious as always, The Jules.

  7. I'm not sure how international law works in regard to this kind of thing, but here in the States, you would be sued (and/or cuffed to the bars and held up for public chastisement) just for publishing pictures of that Special Forces obstacle course you call playground equipment. These images could actually encourage children to climb and jump! Monster!

  8. Savvy - It really has slipped the H&S sweep net hasn't it?

    Girl I - I read your comment to my colleagues at work today, who thought it was ace!

    SkylersDad - Exactly. And how will they ever learn about acoustics without the "WubbawubbawubbaDONK!" sounds that accompany said action?

    Soda and Candy - Ta!

    GB - They would be full of ice-cream vendors who wouldn't be allowed home.

    Mdme DeF - Only the fluffier kind. And they're doing great thank you very much!

    Steamy - There's enough of a feral "Lord of the Flies" motif about the playground at the best of times.

    Beta Dad - What doesn't kill tehm makes them . . . er . . . want to join up and kill other people! Yay!

  9. I'm trying to work out whether I've missed some posts - between the inevitable baby and the evitable baby - or whether this is your way of saying that the baby has arrived.

    Either way, congratulations.

    When I read "naval" I for some inexplicable and disturbing reason think "nasal".

    Similar, I know.

    *nurses red-raw sores on wrist*

    I've no idea why that 'cuff is there but shouldn't you get home and sterilise some dummies or something?!

  10. You're probably right for all the right reasons, I can only imagine the French wanting to invade, but they're a bit out of practice. As for the handcuffs, I can't recall having seen any in Brazilian playgrounds, caches of weapons yes, but not handcuffs.
    "little primates to get in touch with their inner monkey" that is a treasure, I'll keep that one in mind.


  11. The fact that it's rusty perturbs me. Perhaps a wealthy proprietor once took a young milkmaid there for some light bondage. Must've taken ages for it to rust to such an extent.

  12. Mo - Thanks. The long gaps between posting are for a reason. I'm now the lucky owner of a new baby girl (as of 7 weeks ago!) which, delightful though it is, leaves me with less time than a suicidal mayfly. And shouldn't you have fluffy coverings on your cuffs?

    AV - That's okay. We're a bit out of practice at defending ourselves as well, so it should still be evenly matched.

    Michael - Nothing worse than rusty bondage equipment. The WD40 just spoils the moment. Unless you like that sort of thing . . .

  13. You had me here; ..." because that would be like sewing up a fat person's gob and then locking them in a bakery."

  14. Australia was going to invade, but our ships need cleaning first and no one could quite remember the way anymore..(its been a while)
    Sorry to disappoint, but those arent cop cuffs...theyre just like the ones from our local sex shop tho...Oops!

  15. Jimmy - I'm nothing if not sensitive to the needs of the acutely chunky.

    Tempo - Sounds like an expert opinion there! Anyway, they could still belong to a copper. As sort of "off-duty" cuffs.

  16. Not to be prosaic, but from the looks of it, those cuffs are probably holding the whole thing up.

  17. GTChristie - That and willpower from children, possibly.

  18. The notorious Chlorine Man has once again successfully oxidized the handcuffs and effected his escape!

    Haha, a euphemism you'd rather not know about...

  19. My new classroom discipline plan, from here on out, will hinge on the "series of tuts" technique. Does pitch or speed matter?

    The head-wrenching lattice was so disturbing to me that I didn't have any more worry left in me for the handcuff.

  20. Eric - No doubt continuing his nefarious antimicrobial activities in local swimming pools. The fiend!

    Vic - I didn't realise worry was a finite resource. And tutting is mainly about volume. Start low, and end by turning it up to eleven, so your practically shoutng "Tcha!" into the ear of your tuttee.

  21. This is the result of taking your children to the park. Disturbing imagery. Keeping kids at home in small wooden crates is the responsible thing to do.

  22. Sarah P - True, but I'd run out of clean straw.

  23. I shouldn't worry too much about the French wanting to invade any time soon. The last I heard the army was massing on the Belgian border with a view to reclaiming Wallonia when the nation splits in two.


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