So, apparently, there has been an upsurge in the incidence of rickets amongst children in the UK and that has been blamed on ... computer games. What a shocker! Apparently, instead of children staying indoors and playing dark and satanic console games, they should be frolicing in the fields, running around in the brilliant sunlight and playing football, cricket and other wholesome activities.
What a wonderful concept eh?
Of course, on virtually every point its utter tosh. Firstly, have these doctors ever looked out of the window? Its not without some truth amidst the sarcasm that we ask each other what the strange glowing sphere in the sky is - I'm bloody sick of being in a dull, grey country with shitty weather. That these scientists are from Newcastle makes this even funnier. Of course, I am being a little hyperbolic, but we don't exactly have a surfeit of sunshine at the moment.
And of course, we still have all of these playing fields and wonderful facilities for our children to use. Or not as the case may be. I met with some of my old school friends recently and we agreed that almost every place we played when we were kids has now been built over with houses or offices. The back lanes that we played football in are now double-parked with very expensive company cars, nose to tail. My children have a garden, but the next accessible piece of playspace is about two miles away.
So take them? Yeah, thats possible I suppose. Of course, in the time when you have to take the kids to their daily frolic in the 'sun' you also have to hold down your job, move around their after-school club activities, do their homework, do one of YOUR five 30-minute exercise routines a day, cooka nourishing family meal packed with the requisite 5-a-day and .... at this point, the clock explodes. Of course, I also snigger at the idea that every parent in the North Shields. Royal Quays and Meadowell area turned up at the park at the same time. It would be carnage.
Well, what about letting the kids 'play out'? Thats a prescribed activity nowadays, as regular readers know. I laughed until I hurt at Charlie Brooker's latest Newswipe re: the 'terror' media and the various hysterical episodes they have visited upon the masses. The fear of paedophiles is still everywhere and the concept of your child disappearing is so chilling, so present and so likely (?) that you simply don't take the risk. Even beyond the Clear and Present Danger of Kiddy Fiddling Inc. there is still the danger of playing with balls (aka weapons of property destruction) and laughing and shouting (anti-social behaviour 101)
Indeed, any grouping of young people is now considered a terrible danger. I was sat in my living room on Saturday when a group of teenage boys passed the house. They were 'hoodies' and having a laugh and lark about with each other. My wife was on red alert, like a meercat ready to protect her young. I asked her what was the matter and she pointed to the youths. I asked, curiously, whether they looked like they were going to turn, form an organised phalanx and storm our house? Indeed, have any group of youngsters in modern history simply decided to randomly attack a brick building like so many modern visigoths? No. So what was the problem? Was the prospect of home invasion imminent? Should we have raised the hearthside terror level to 'severe'?
You want kids to play out and become healthy? How about building some more play areas? How about stopping drawing upon their time with 101 other things? How about becoming more tolerant of the things that kids do when they play - balls, noise, walking and how about setting up a massive solar mirror to bring some more sunshine to our blighted isle?
And why do I think the latter is more likely than any of the former?