Top critical review
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on 24 July 2014
“Elf and Safety” has long been ridiculed for being over cautious and part of the Nanny state; in the wake of 9/11 the world has gone Health and Safety crazy – but are all the restrictions, particularly in airports really necessary? Well it appears to be “security theatre” – in other words, these measures have to be seen to be taken in order that people will feel safe. The authors quote the stupidity of a rule which confiscates a butter knife from a pilot, but allows, if not encourages, passengers to board a plane clutching bottles of duty free alcohol which could be turned into Molotov cocktails! They have dissected the rules and the reasons and found that despite unbelievably vast amounts of money, no bombs have been found on passengers travelling on planes, nor have the materials to make explosives ever been found. Experiments have been carried out o determine whether or not certain explosives could possibly be made on a plane – the answer is a decisive No, yet still the rules are in place. Anything that is even slightly connected to a gun is confiscated – from a T-shirt bearing a drawing of a gun to a teeny tiny plastic gun attached to a teeny tiny toy soldier. Rules is Rules seem to be the overriding order of the day, as common sense and logic fly out the window.
There are chapters dealing with different issues – photographers being banned from taking photographs of their own children playing football. Children having to be supervised at swimming pools, and the extraordinary lengths one mother went to get the rules changed. Road and rail safety: after the Clapham Junction rail crash (1988), fares increased, apparently to pay for improved safety measures. The following year there was a substantial increase in road traffic – this in turn resulted in more road injuries and deaths. The authors draw the conclusion that “more people died as a result of new safety measures on the railways than the crash that catalysed them”. What they fail to mention is that along with increased fares there was the fear of another major rail crash. At times I felt the book was somewhat biased, and determined to ridicule just about everything they examined.
Although the subject matter might be perceived to be as dry as an old bone, there is enough humour to keep it a fairly light read. What disappointed me was the lack of information on how to go about changing things, despite the fact that this book is supposed to contain just that. For that it gets only a three star rating from me, but I will read it again sometime in the future.
Net Galley provided a free Kindle download for me to read and review; this has not influenced my review in any way.