‘Elf And Safety Nonsense Of The Week


Sometimes I despair. It’s that time of year when students who have graduated are awarded their degrees. At certain institutions part of the fun of the graduation celebrations is gathering en masse and throwing your mortar boards into the air.

Of course what goes up must come down and some graduates, according to the ‘Elf and Safety gestapo, have been hurt by falling mortar boards. It must be there is a Peaky Blinders version of the mortar board around – you know the one with razor blades concealed in the edges.

Anyway, a number of universities have issued a ban on the practice, describing it as an unacceptable risk. As a sop the University of East Anglia have proposed that images of the headwear be digitally added afterwards if students mime the action of throwing them up in the air when the traditional photo is taken. Not only will the students’ safety be ensured but the hats will remain intact. Crazy!

I have a better idea. Why don’t they just Photoshop the whole university experience? The students will be at least £27,000 the richer, will have saved themselves three years of their lives studying for a worthless degree from a questionable institution and still be qualified to stack shelves at their local supermarket.

Hats off to any student who defies such ludicrous strictures, I say.


As I get older, I just prefer to knit




A couple of years ago the news of the forthcoming arrival of our first grandchild (our very own BoJ) prompted TOWT to rediscover her passion for knitting. She burst into frenetic activity and garment after garment came off her one-woman conveyor belt. She is still at it and uses any pretext as a reason for knitting, purling and casting on and off.

And she is not alone. Knitting, it seems, is undergoing a revival in fortunes. If Google searching is any indication of popularity, on-line searches for knitting-related items has steadily increased year-on-year since 2004 and rose by 150% in 2011. Part of the growth in popularity has been the enthusiastic adoption of the art by the under 35s. It is an ancient skill – one of the earliest examples of knitting was a pair of cotton socks found in Egypt at the end of the first millennium CE and the first knitting guild was established in Paris in 1527. Adherents swear to its health benefits. The repetitive and rhythmic actions that are associated with knitting, they say, create a relaxation response in the body which can decrease blood pressure, heart rate and help prevent illness and generate a feeling of calmness and well-being. I’m not sure this is always the case given the occasional expletive that comes from the general direction of TOWT when she has dropped a stitch or misread the pattern! The challenge of reading and interpreting the patterns make the grey cells more resilient and reduce the chance of the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

However, some people in authority are not embracing the return to popularity of knitting. Take the fate of the Knit ‘n’ Natter group who have met in the library at Cramlington in Northumberland weekly for the past three years and knitted thousands of items for premature babies. Surely a harmless and charitable enterprise you would think. Trouble came when a new library was built and the group have been told that there is no room in the library to accommodate their circle of 30 or so knitters. No specific reason has to be given for this egregious example of hard-hearted officialdom but there have been suggestions that knitting needles have been viewed as being dangerous instruments – I can testify to the sharp pain inflicted by one if I get too close to the whirling dervish that is TOWT in full steam – and have provoked the wrath of the ‘Elf and Safety brigade. Others suggest that the natter aspect of the group’s name was counter to the studied atmosphere of calm and quiet that the new library is trying to create.

Either way, it is another item to be added to the ever-growing list entitled The World Is Going Mad.