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‘I’m sick of the government telling us what to do’

Kate Langbroek, Sunday Style

IT IS fascinating to think about the olden days, or, as archaeologists refer to that period: the 1970s.

I love to ask my mother-in-law, who has one of those vivid-recall memory banks, what they used to do in those days. 

For instance, when she left hospital with her fourth baby (my husband Petie), he was placed in his little bassinet on the floor at her feet, in the front seat of their big old Kingswood. No one thought much of it, because that’s how big families got around back then. Once they’d run out of proper, formal seats, everyone just squeezed on in.

It’s amazing imagining a suburban street where all the mothers were at home, and the kids would run from yard to yard, or hop on their push bikes and pedal “down the creek”, and when they’d had their fill of catching yabbies or piffing lemons at passing cars, they’d venture home for “tea”.

These concepts are astounding now: that TV finished at midnight; that there were only four channels; that everyone in the family would sit around and watch the same show. But not, apparently, government ads. See, mostly what I find amazing about back then is that the government pretty well butted out of things.

The gubberment now thinks it’s their job to teach us about everything. I mean, there are ad campaigns about stuff that I would have thought is utterly basic. Or, at the very least, a matter of personal responsibility. Like, don’t drink too much, and buckle up, and wear bike helmets, and don’t speed, and use sunscreen, and don’t leave kids in cars, and be careful with heavy machinery, and don’t bully or hit, and give your kids breakfast, and have safe sex, and go to the doctor for check-ups, and digital television is coming, and only registered tradies should do electrical work, and don’t be a terrorist, and don’t stand on toilet seats, and put your hair in a net if you work in a kitchen, and be able to swim before you go swimming, and wash your hands before handling food.

Seriously, there are so many ads for so many social maladies, I’m worried they’re going to run out of causes even before they run out of our money to spend on them. But because I’m also certain there are committees RIGHT NOW taking submissions on the next “public health” campaign, I’d like to suggest a few stones that have been left unturned, complete with slogans to help “start the conversation”.

Step safely. Walking up stairs wearing wide-legged pyjama pants is a hazard we just aren’t warned enough about. I myself have nearly tripped several times doing this, and a girlfriend actually broke her toe when it got hooked in the leg of her palazzos.

Don’t be hasty with your toastie. Hot cheese is dangerous, especially in a toastie or jaffle. Burnt tongues, I am sure, “cost the community” millions every year. It’s time we address this “burning” issue.

Put a sock on it. If you choose to wear runners, as fashion dictates, without the absorption of a sock underneath, they will soon get whiffy. This can lead to issues of discomfort on public transport, or at the movies, when a foul-footed patron slides their feet on the seat rest next to you.

Don’t palm it off. If you, as a lot of ladies do, apply hand cream when driving, you’ll have noticed how slippery it makes your hands when you place them on the wheel. This campaign will encourage female drivers to only cream the backs of their hands, leaving their palms dry and SAFE.

Until next week, be careful. It’s dangerous out there.

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