Saturday, 19 November 2011

Trafalgar Square: a Health & Safety Free Zone

Today I arranged to meet a friend in Trafalgar Square. He was late, so I spent half an hour in the November sunshine watching children, young and old, climbing onto the plinth of Nelson's Column and clambering over the lions - some succeeding in sitting astride them for their photographs.

It occurred to me that in many cities - Paris, perhaps - no such thing would be allowed. Too informal and disrespectful.

Then it occurred to me that everything that was going on in front of me was in defiance of Health and Safety. The corners and edges of the stone plinth are brutally sharp, the lions are slippery, polished by thousands of jeans, the drop is substantial. Of course, the younger children were supervised by their parents, but the teenagers and older visitors not.

I guess there are accidents from time to time. But watching the scene, I thought: this place is dedicated to Lord Nelson's victory at Trafalgar. No one - no one - here cares much about that; probably they have never heard of it. They are having fun being in London just because Health and Safety has decided to turn a blind eye to what is going on underneath Nelson's blind eye. Long may it continue.

1 comment:

  1. The monument at Nelson’s Column is unique in being both accessible and inviting. In Paris, the Place de la Bastille boasts only a column and the Place de la Concorde has just an obelisk. Likewise, in Rome, Trajan’s column is nothing more than a column, while you could hardly clamber over the rocks at the Trevi fountain. In Madrid, the lions pulling the chariot in the Plaza de Cibeles are ringed by water. But in Trafalgar Square, the fountains keep a respectful distance from the lions. But no Health and Safety? Westminster Council has passed by-laws banning the feeding of pigeons.

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