- About TFT
Friday Thing Archive
- Politics
- Media
- Culture and Society
- War On Terror
- People
- Places
- World
- Popped Clogs
- Music
- Books
- Film
- Etc
Help And Info
- Contact Details
- Advertising
- Jobs
- Privacy Policy
- XML Feed

Home > Politics

Alton Towers: a cruel and unusual punishment

When child psychologist Jean Piaget first developed his 'Log Flume' theory of child discipline, little did he realise it would take such a practical form...

24 October 2003


Knowsley Borough Council is sending a bunch of troublemaker teenagers to a local 'pleasure' park - Alton Towers - on the day of Halloween. The rationale is that a day spent going on fairground rides will leave the little bastards too exhausted to cause trouble in the evening.

Not so, says the local authority. Actually the trip is a reward for 'troubled' teens whoíve been keeping out of trouble and are actively getting rehabilitated into non-shoplifting/joyriding/granny-scaring society. As well as the reformed petite criminals, the trip will also be for 'model citizen' teens who take part in community activities. So some promising bullying opportunities there.

But a local authority social services manager (who used words like 'networks' and 'partners') has said the Halloween trip has been proven to reduce Halloween night yobbery. So in other words they ARE trying to make the little bastards too exhausted to cause trouble in the evening.

Needless to say, local luminaries (well, a Lib Dem councillor) say it sends out the wrong message, ie. be bad, get to experience the thrill of the log flume. In fact, itís yet another variant of the perverse incentive schemes that are so popular these days. You don't get punished for being bad, you get rewarded for not being as bad as you conceivably could. Here at TFT we haven't murdered anyone yet. Do we win a DVD player?

The Alton Towers trip raises a number of questions. Firstly, why send them to Alton Towers? Why not just put them on a giant treadmill for a couple of days?

Secondly, is Alton Towers tiring? We went to Alton Towers years ago, and it just seemed to involve standing in interminable queues before being hurtled round a ride at 3Gs for 25 seconds. Then itís back to the queuing. And the crowds. And the screaming. And the smell of fast food. It was a bit like a bad acid

Still, the kids involved are probably the sort for whom a family day out means being told to fuck off out of the house by your step-dad before he sticks one on you, so it's probably only fair that they get something that resembles a family outing.

The only problem is that the teens are likely to leave Alton Towers not tired out, but with an appetite for destruction after spending all day on less-than-thrilling rides. Alton Towers is possibly the only fairground to feature a ride called 'The Mouse'. This implies that at an engineering firm somewhere the following conversation took place:

"Colin, what shall we call the new ride? The King Cobra? The Terminator? Nightmare Mountain?"

"Nah, letís call it The Vole."

"Er, I'm not being funny, but it does lack a certain sense ofÖ
white-knuckle terror."

"Oh alright. The Mouse."

"Are mice scary?"

"Yeah, if you're an elephant."

If anything, the trip to Alton Towers could well prove a deterrent to troublemaking. This is a pleasure park at which one of the main attractions is The Corkscrew - we think it's the roller coaster featured on Jimíll Fix It in the late 1970s (you know, the one with the boy scouts and packed lunches). If so, it's less exciting than it looked - in fact, more on a par with the moment of distress when you think you've locked yourself out of your house, only to find your keys in your pocket a second later.

If you're the kind of teen who enjoys a thrilling life of underage drinking, joy-riding, irresponsible sex and drug abuse, then a day spent on The Corkscrew, The Mouse, Cinema 2000, the log flume and the pirate galleon should be punishment in itself.

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

Subscribe to The Friday Thing for free

Bad words ahead The Friday Thing is a weekly email comment sheet. Casting a cynical eye over the week's events, it is rarely fair and never balanced.

A selection of articles from each week's issue appear online, but to enjoy the full Thing, delivered by email every Friday - as well as access to almost five years of back issues - you'll need to subscribe. It's absolutely free.

"Razor-sharp comment and gossip." - The Sunday Times

"Hilariously cynical..To describe it as 'irreverent' is to do the newsletter an injustice." - The Observer

"Sharp, intelligent, opinionated, uncompromising and very, very funny. Just like 'Private Eye' used to be." - Alec McKelland

"Wicked" - Channel 4

"Ace" - Time Out

"'We rise once again in advocacy of The Friday Thing. We realize that some of you may be unwilling to spend [your money] on plain-text comment, but you're only depriving yourself." - The Minor Fall, The Major Lift

"Subscribing to this at the beginning of the year was undoubtedly one of the better decisions I've made. Superlative, and utterly marvellous. I look forward to Fridays now, because I can't wait for the next issue. Fucking fucking brilliant." - Meish.org

"Featuring writers from The Observer, Smack The Pony and The 11 O'Clock Show... will continue to attract new subscribers sight unseen" - NeedToKnow

"The Friday Thing is so good it's stopping me from doing a bunk of a Friday afternoon." - Annie Blinkhorn (The Erotic Review)

"So now" - The Evening Standard

"Damn it, you rule. May you never, ever back down." - Paul Mayze

"Ace" - PopJustice

"Snarky" - Online Journalism Review

"Can you please stop making me laugh out loud... I'm supposed to be working, you know!" - Tamsin Tyrwhitt

"Your coverage of stuff as it spills is right on the money." - Mike Woods

"Popbitch with A-Levels." - Tim Footman

"In an inbox full of trite work-related nonsense, TFT shines from under its subject heading like the sun out of Angus Deayton's arse." - Nikki Hunt

"A first rate email. It's become an integral part of my week, and my life would be empty and meaningless without it (well, *more* empty and meaningless anyway)." - Mark Pugh

"Genius, absolute bit of class. And you can quote me on that." - Lee Neville

"If you're hipper than hell, this is what you read." - MarketingSherpa

"The most entertaining email I've had all week. Great tone." - Matthew Prior

"A massive and engrossing wit injection." - idiotica.co.uk

"I wouldn't know satire if it bit me on the arse. But I did like the Naomi Campbell joke." - Matt Kelly (The Mirror)

"Has had an understandably high profile among people who know about these things." - Guy Clapperton (Guardian Online)

"Satirical sideswipes at the burning issues of the day." - Radio 5 Live

"Puerile and worthless... Truly fabulous... Do read the whole thing." - Stephen Pollard

© The Friday Thing 2001-2008 - All Rights Reserved