If I can, anyone can. Admittedly it was with a little help from Dougal and Tommy, but I have uploaded my first YouTube video, shot (in case you want to know) on my Nokia N95 when I peered through a hole in the wall enjoying the experience of seeing the National Portrait gallery covered in graffiti. Here is the John Knox Sex Club – yes, I went for the name but stayed for the music – and a glimpse of Edinburgh the way I like it best, when it is not afraid to take a risk…
Millions of people make all kinds of little films every day – weird, wonderful, daft and life-changing stuff, it’s all freely available for the world to see on YouTube. But it is a new experience for me and a great feeling to have managed it. Dougal came up with a great one-liner when I said I might need a little help uploading the video. “If you can’t work it out from the YouTube website, YouTube has failed.” It really is as simple as that. And next time I should be able to get the video off YouTube and on to my blog without help from Tommy either.
It’s been another good year for Health and Safety myths. If you have five minutes to spare take a look at the Myth of the Month on the HSE website, it is a cracking good read. In September they did not stop school kids wearing ties. In October they did not ban graduates from playing frisbee with mortar boards (eh?)and in November they did not stop school science experiments – in fact earlier this year HSE Chair Judith Hackitt set her hands alight to prove it.
Must admit, I’m struggling a bit with the image of a health and safety supremo setting fire to her hands ‘safely’ (to make a point about ‘sensible risk management’ in the science lab) but I am all for busting a few myths. To be honest there is something slightly prissy about the HSE website – they do have to keep reminding us that common sense prevents accidents (and after all 180 people died at work last year, most of them in agriculture, manufacturing and construction). But I have always suspected there is a great lack of common sense in the way most public organisations react to supposed Health and Safety rules.
Isn’t it interesting to see how many of the myths relate to schools? Which makes me wonder about the possible mixed motives of parents, teachers and the newspapers that report these mythical bans. When I was at school I would have loved someone to ban ties (or maths and hockey sticks come to think of it). But no, HSE says they have no objection to ties – “if the concern is about kids fighting, although clip-on ties may help, the real issue is discipline.” And they don’t want to stop kids having fun in adventure playgrounds either, as long as the local authorities take sensible risk assessments to make sure the equipment is safe.
Jacqui assess Wind and Bamboo risks
So, no they don’t ban hanging baskets, bonfires, or flip-flops at work – and they don’t say all concert-goers must wear earplugs though they do say that employers in noisy places should ensure workers have protection against going deaf.
Perhaps, just perhaps, people like to hide behind Health and Safety rules to save themselves the bother of carrying out a risk assessment. When I was involved in organising the Wind and Bamboo event at the Botanics last year we carried out a fairly rigorous assessment (thank you Jacqui!) and probably indulged in a few myths in the process. I don’t think it is Health and Safety that stops people serving hot tea on a cold night, it is the fear that someone will sue if they get burned. (We served hot tea anyway!)
However, it is good to see that HSE statistics show fewer people are getting killed and injured at work. We just need to bust the myths that give people an excuse to stop having fun. Don’t be surprised if you get the 2010 Myth of the Month calendar for Christmas, I am going to send off for a bulk order very soon.
In the end there was nothing we could do about the biggest risk of all – but despite appalling weather it was a good show all the same and no-one slipped, poked their eye out with an umbrella or got burnt with hot tea.
What’s not to like about trams? Why does Edinburgh insist on digging itself into a dismal hole instead of exciting people with a picture of what a modern transport system means for the city? Come on, it’s a horrible wet day, let’s go for a YouTube ride on a tram…maybe starting in Barcelona for a taste of optimism and forward thinking.
But first I must explain why I need a trip out of town. Last night I heard a truly depressing account of the infighting which is delaying progress of Edinburgh’s one tramline. It was a private meeting so I won’t name names (oh, it’s so tempting!) but I will repeat the quote attributed to the new chief of TIE, the company with the daunting task of getting a tram onto the streets of Scotland’s capital city by 2011.
Every time the Evening News prints a negative story about the trams
it adds another £10 million to the price.
That’s Richard Jeffrey, formerly the boss at Edinburgh airport, who needs to convince a formidable coalition – a negative mass of malevolent media, misguided politicians and misinformed public – that trams are an essential part of a 21st century public transport system in a city which aspires to being a European capital.
There were happier times when as one Libdem councillor put it ‘consensus broke out’ at least for a few minutes in the City Chamber three years ago. I remember feeling quite moved when on 22 December 2006 I watched the chamber rise (with one exception) to cast their vote in favour of investing in the tram. (and went home to blog about it.)
Of course there are some places where you can go by boat…
But no more looking back. Now we can actually see the tramlines on Princes Street it is really time to look forward. And though TIE is trying harder to add a touch of genuine enthusiasm to their website I think they need much more razzamatazz. Since they will get no help from our local press, here’s how other cities do it.
A few moments on YouTube is a bit of a treat especially on a rainy day. It shows how trams can bring style, speed and spirit to city streets. Places like Helsinki and Amsterdam sell the city to tourists with tram videos. Ok, I know I am biased but try this ride on a Paris tram, sliding through suburbs, along the Seine, up tree-lined boulevards, seats emptying, seats filling up…oh to be in Paris.
But you don’t even need to go to mainland Europe. Here’s an upbeat view of Manchester (with a kind of Avengers soundtrack), or Dublin, or Croydon where joblessness fell and house prices rose in areas connected by tram. In each city to ensure good connections trams are integrated with buses – just as they will be in Edinburgh. Enjoy the ride.
No, no trams…just a reminder that Edinburgh can be fun and creative (see FEAST) we just need to make sure the city fathers remember that too.