Tripping the light fantastic

Last week the press had fun with the clown from the Moscow State Circus who had fallen and broken a metatarsal. The health and safety ‘advisor’ said he should not wear the trade-mark oversized clown shoes on the high wire because they were too high a risk.

I seem to remember a certain Mr David Beckham breaking a metatarsal playing football once. At the time he was playing for both Manchester United and England, but I don’t recall them suggesting he stopped either playing or wearing football boots, because they were ‘high risk’!

Larry Dewitt, the so-called expert Health and Safety adviser to the circus said: “I’m not a believer in political correctness, or doing things for the sake of doing it however, you have to take a common-sense approach with these things – if it’s stupid, don’t do it.”

What’s stupid about a clown wearing oversized shoes? Isn’t that what clowns are all about – silliness and stupidity? That’s why we laugh at them. Risk is about the ratio of consequences to likelihood – the occasional incident does not mean that all clowns will now break bones as a result of wearing oversized shoes.

One wonders how long it will be before they stop the high wire artists performing at a height more than a couple of feet from ground level, in case they fall off!

Clowns are about silliness and high wire acts are about risk – that’s why we watch them. Get a life Mr Dewitt!