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For many years one of my hobbies has been model-building, and one of my favourite materials is styrene sheet. This comes in a variety of thicknesses, has a beautifully smooth surface, takes paint very well, cuts easily or bends-and-snaps cleanly along a lightly scored line. Wonderful stuff altogether.
To glue it together one uses a thin solvent which, applied with a paint brush, runs between the two pieces, melts the surfaces and produces a strong, permanent bond in seconds. You can, of course, buy tiny bottles of solvent in the model shop for an exorbitant price, but by far the best and cheapest solvent is, or was, "Thawpit Spot Remover" which came from the chemist or hardware shop. One bottle would last me three or four years, and it did the job perfectly. Chloroform was good too, but harder to obtain!
Now, alas, I can no longer buy Thawpit Spot Remover. It has been removed from the shelves. Our kindly nanny-state has decided that I am not a suitable person to be allowed to handle such a dangerous substance in case I injure myself (contains carbon tetrachloride, I think, which has been found to give laboratory rats cancer if they bathe in it three times a day for fifteen years or something). I might sniff it, for instance, or pour it down my underpants and strike a match, or drink it. That's the kind of stupid thing I do all the time, after all …. isn't it?
I tried to buy some Paracetamol in the supermarket last week. The check-out girl told me she wasn't allowed to sell me two packets, I could only buy one at a time. If I had more than 16 tablets I might take them all at once and do myself a mischief - sort of absent-mindedly, I suppose?
My boat has an outboard motor, which is stored in the usual plastic cans. My garage man tells me he can't let me fill all three of my cans at the beginning of the season - it's against the law to fill more than two at once. My boat is made of wood - it would only take one can of petrol to set it alight if I were that stupid (fibreglass boats burn even better than wood, surprisingly). It would take less than a can to douse myself with petrol and immolate myself, I should think, if I wanted to make a really spectacular protest against nanny bureaucracy. How is it that can I be trusted to take care of two cans, but not three?
I am 63 years of age, sound in body and mind, own my own house, have a grown-up family, run a little business, have never committed any crime, am solvent, articulate, kind and responsible, have an IQ in the 140s, all my own teeth and a fair bit of hair. I didn't get this far by doing stupid things, and it makes me BLOODY FURIOUS that some jumped-up little jobsworth with a suit and an office has got together with his friends so they can take it upon themselves to dictate what I may or may not safely do, or what I may be permitted to buy. If I meet one of these people and he dares to use the expression "for your own good" he will get a punch in the ear, I guarantee. What's good for me is something for me to decide, not a committee. I've been on committees, and never a useful decision came out of one yet.
And in case anyone is tempted to write and tell me that if I drank Thawpit Spot Remover, or made myself a Paracetamol sandwich, or set fire to my boat in the middle of Harwich Harbour it would cost the emergency services and the National Health Service a lot of money and trouble to look after me, let them first pause and think. The off-licences are full of relatively cheap booze which would taste a lot better if I were that way inclined. Only seriously upset people eat Paracetamol sandwiches and if I were that upset I'd probably feel it was worthwhile to visit several supermarkets one after the other. And I've been sailing almost all my adult life and I've never seen a single boat on fire. I've only ever heard of two examples on the East Coast. One was caused by a faulty diesel engine and the other by a leak of bottled gas.
"Ah," you might say, "but someone else might mistakenly think Thawpit was OK to drink. Or they might have a really bad headache, or something". Well, there's only one answer to that - they must be some kind of stupid prat, and so, probably, are you. I'm not a stupid prat but a rational, sensible person like 99.9% of the population, so why should we suffer for them? Also, let it not be forgotten, we all pay exorbitant taxes and National Insurance. We aren't charity cases - we OWN the emergency services and the hospitals. How dare anyone suggest we shouldn't make use of them if the need arises?




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