Friday, 17 August 2012

Health and Safety? Non.

Don't be jealous, but I am currently sat on a clifftop in Biarritz watching the French enjoy la plage with great enthusiasm. The usual things are happening. People are topless, eating ice cream, smoking cigarettes, surfing, and running and diving with complete disregard for their bodies into waves reaching six feet or more. All of these are potentially dangerous activities (except eating ice cream I suppose) but I am struck in particular by the lack of any health and safety displayed in and around the Atlantic surf. There are several rules I am sure should be followed. Diving into shallow surf is dangerous and an easy way to break your neck. Not in France, apparently, where everyone is lining up for a synchronised plunge. Letting small children play alone in big waves? Pas de probleme. The sea eventually spits them back out somewhere along the beach, spluttering, gasping, but importantly still alive. Heeding the lifeguard's safety messages? Qui? There is a tanned fellow on a raised platform who I assume is the lifeguard. Occasionally he blows a whistle or does some vague waving and is completely ignored by one and all. Health and safety? Non. In a few minutes I fancy joining my European cousins and most probably becoming the first pasty and useless casualty of the year. At least the lifeguard can earn his money.