Danger, Will Robinson

As the robot said to the future Mr Lennier in the sixties TV series, “Lost in Space” – though, it would more accurately (if less briefly) have been titled “The Swiss Family Robinson in Space”.  Also, whilst it is the only line from the show I know, it was apparently only said the once – perhaps an indication of the safety of space, even when lost (or Swiss).

Away from space, danger lurks in many unexpected places as diminutive magician Paul Daniels discovered last week.  My former colleague, Sooty, was involved in a pizza-based assault on the conjurer which apparently resulted in a trip to Casualty.  I always knew Sooty was passive-aggressive, all that whispering to a trusted confidant rather than just speaking up and tackling issues head-on was an obvious give-away. However, after a little incitement it all seems to have kicked-off (quite impressive when you lack legs) and the “passive” was forgotten.  I think the lesson to learn here is to be very careful before you cross a glove puppet (just ask Michael Parkinson).  I assume it can only be a matter of days before unscrupulous lawyers are using low-budget TV reconstructions to elicit our claims for compensation after our own puppet-based injuries.  I fear this may be the end of the road (or pier) for Mr Punch (though Judy should be in line for a decent pay-out).

As an adult, I go to some trouble to avoid danger, or at least those locations and activities where I perceive it to reside, and a recent recollection from my childhood makes me think this was perhaps always true (or, at least, that is the more innocent explanation for the tale I am about to expound).

I believe the young of today will place posters of sporting heroes, pop stars or other soi-disant celebrities upon the walls of their bedrooms – and I believe a broadly similar situation held sway back in the 1970s.   But, not in my boudoir… (OK, I’ll admit only women are really allowed a boudoir – but you’ve got to love the idea of a special room for sulking).   So far as I can remember, my bedroom walls held only two posters – both produced by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).  One had details of all the UK’s deadliest plants and the effects of their ingestion and the other provided similar information about our most inimical fungi.

At this temporal remove, I can no longer recall why the younger ‘me’ chose to keep these on his walls, rather than posters covering some more traditional subject matter.  I am forced to assume that either I was unduly concerned about eating something deadly from the plant or fungal realm (perhaps I was expecting to be poisoned?), or that I was planning a career as a poisoner.  I don’t remember any suspicious deaths in my immediate social circle during my teenage years, though we did have to move immediately after I finished my A levels… (but I’m sure that was entirely unrelated).   Any attempts to poison me have also clearly failed: not sure whether this was down to the posters, my cast-iron constitution or incompetence on the part of my would-be assassin. Still, you can never be too careful…

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