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Home > Culture and Society

Going conkers

24 September 2004

In South Shields a ruck has popped over South Tyneside Council's decision to emasculate six conker trees at the side of a main road. The castration was okayed after a small child fell from a chestnut-gathering climb and was injured. The council was also worried that in trying to loosen the prickly battleballs with sticks and stones, other kids might break their bones, or cause a conker-related pile-up.

The decision - which was taken without consulting local residents - has caused an avalanche of protest. Well, OK, avalanche is pushing it. Let's agree on a flurry. Suffice to say, a parents' protest was organised at a local primary school. Karen Williams was there. 'My little boy is eight,' she said, 'and if he does nothing more dangerous than throwing sticks to knock down chestnuts I will be well pleased.' And what mother wouldn't? Sadly, the conkers have gone. Shame really. They were probably the only thing keeping the Williams boy off the crack.

Conservative MEP for the North East, Martin Callanan was also keen to stick his greasy flaccid oar in. He described the rogue pollarding as evidence of 'the nanny state gone mad'. He is also said to have muttered something about Nazi Germany. 'I wonder if the council will follow this to its natural conclusion and cut down all the trees,' he continued. Well, let's say they did do that. Let's say they then soaked up all the rivers and oceans with enormous absorbent towels just because a couple of kids drown every year, then yes, in that case, the inch-nosing rat may have had a point. But they didn't. And he hasn't. This is not 'the nanny state gone mad'. This is merely common or garden nanny statism.

Fuck it, Callanan's right. They should let them all die.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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