Back in the day, either at school or in the school holidays, you’d be subjected to the charm of the Public Safety Advert.
These would usually start on TV around June, just before the holidays for the summer based ones, or nearer September for winter versions. If you were subjected to them at school, you’d be led into the hall and they would be shown on one of those massive TV VCR sets on a trolley with doors, and usually in the presence of a PC from the local Constabulary (shout out to PC Baldock for all the Medway massive).
The adverts were like mini Horror films. There were plenty of them too.
The one’s that really stick with me were to do with fireworks. My God, how anyone of my generation actually still attends displays or, heaven forbid, hosts ones themselves is beyond me.
Seriously. I’m helping out at the Beaver/Cubs Firework night on Monday, and we’re having sparklers. The idea makes me go over all goosepimpled. I’m not going near a bloody sparkler and I’m 34 down to ads like these:
Then there was one where someone had gotten hold of fireworks and set their bloody house alight as they didn’t keep them in a metal biscuit tin. Or the kid who had one explode in their face and was scared for life.
They were always far too bloody graphic and, to be fair, it’s no wonder that by the late nineties they went for cartoon versions that had the same message of safety without giving the entire Primary School network of Great Britain ongoing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Then, there was the fact that, around every corner, danger lurked unless you were with your Mum. Even older siblings could not be trusted and would, without doubt, lead you to be fried by an Electricity Substation.
Or, they would dare you, along with your mates, to walk along the railway line, into the path of an oncoming, fast moving Intercity train, dashing your hopes of football glory.
My problem was doubled- my Dad worked for the electricity company so not only would I be traumatised by these types of video (and seriously, go on Youtube and find some of these if you don’t believe me but don’t show them to today’s kids), but then he would tell me again how dangerous any form of play outside the house was.
You weren’t safe outdoors- there were strangers with nice cars around who would offer you sweets and then tell you about kittens at their house.
You weren’t safe in the park- they were all near railway lines and power stations.
You couldn’t fly kits- they would get stuck in pylons and cause you death by massive electric shock.
Trick or Treating meant even more dodginess could befall you, and not just from your shell suit and cheap mask catching light. Of course, there were weirdos who would give your sweets laced with sharp objects or poison (Or so the urban legend went).
Even indoors wasn’t safe- kettle leads, irons, lighters and matches were all hazards, and even if your Mum was careful and put those pesky fireworks in her Charles and Di tin, you’d still find them and burn your stupid child self.
Its no wonder my generation exercises attachment parenting, as all our parent’s were far too happy to let us out into the path of almost omnipresent doom.
Perhaps this generation are better off in a bubble of game consoles and 24 hour TV. Less chance of them getting their laces stuck in train lines or being abducted by dodgy BBC actors.
I think I shall stick to making the sausages on Monday. And keep the matches well out of reach of children……
………Or any of my fellow 80’s kids.
Stay safe everyone this firework night!