I do a lot of walking along the sea walls around here – they are in fact some of the best places to ramble in agricultural Essex. A favoured walk is from St Peter’s Chapel out at the end of the Dengie peninsular, round past Bradwell power station to Bradwell Waterside, there to recuperate with a drink and a bag of nuts in the Green Man, then back to the starting point. In all it’s about 8 miles. While taking this route it’s nice to stray onto the beach for a while, or pause to take in the scenery. A good place for doing the latter is from the tops of pillboxes (WWII defences) incorporated in the sea wall. They provide a perfect platform. Or, at least, they did.
Now it seems the nanny state and the fun police have struck again. Can’t be having us plebs walking out on these things. No safety rails you see. Someone might fall off and instead of this sensibly being seen as a valuable contribution to the Darwin Award, it’s to be frowned on. Of course, the council, or whoever put these fences here, is not entirely to blame. In my childhood, should I have fallen from something like this, my father would have added to my injuries with a clip round the ear for being such a dozy prat. In today’s litigious society, that’s not what happens, and woe betide any council that allows the children of generation snowflake to stray near potential harm.
More and more I see the future Britain full of strictly controlled and managed parks, where blobby people can motor along the neat paths on their invalid scooters, and where children bounce along looking like the Marshmallow Man in their safetywear, perhaps pausing to inspect the patches of stinging nettles and thistles growing behind Perspex screens.