COLIN CHANNON: Action man, war hero – beaten by a small pin...

This week’s column is written by our old friend Helen Pine. I think you’ll find a lot of readers agreeing with this, Helen...

Last year a friend of mine bought a poppy from a street-seller who told him he couldn’t have a pin to attach it with in case he hurt himself.

This friend, by the way, is a 45-year-old man who for years has flown jet planes in war zones all over the world.

He has a first-class degree in engineering, jumps off tall buildings for fun on a Saturday morning and has rowed a canoe single-handed up the Amazon to meet tribes who’ve never seen white people before.

Oh, and his granddad was back on the front line a month after being blown up in the second world war.

I promise I’m not going to get obsessed with the health-and-safety thing but, err, what now?

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that as a society we need to take care of each other and I’m all for looking out for your neighbour.

When my elderly neighbour broke her hip, I walked her dog, put her bins out and made her shepherd’s pie. We must insure our cars and check who’s looking after our children.

We must make sure gas boilers don’t explode and old people don’t fall down cracks in the pavement, but there are so many stories like my friend’s, it isn’t even funny any more.

We are creating a generation of children who can’t leave their homes without crash helmets and elbow pads to walk to school. Conkers are considered an extreme sport.

My mother will deny this because her memory is failing her, but I promise you when I was 11, my friend Susie and I used to pack a picnic, hop on our bikes, cycle the couple of miles to the harbour, catch the little ferry to the other side, cycle around a bit more and hang out with the swans on the other side until we ran out of food. Or it got dark. Without helmets.

Talking of helmets, I recently met a guy who had been professionally racing at break-neck speeds in the pouring rain at Silverstone and went for a cuppa in the cafe afterwards – where they wouldn’t let him pour his own tea because ‘it’s too dangerous’. I’m not making this up.

Those brave soldiers who gave their lives for us would be turning in their graves, ashamed that we can no longer even wear a poppy to remember them because we are scared of a little pin-prick...


THANKS to everyone who has sent columns to me for this page.

We’ll get round to everyone, I promise.

Reading your columns has been great fun, and shows how much better you are at filling this space than me!

Keep sending your work to me, and we’ll give as many people as possible their five minutes of fame.

So get writing. If I ever run out of columns, then you have to put up with me again...