Just take off the safety, and shoot me!
When having fun was more important than thinking about safety.
Thinking back on my glorious youth, the eldest out of seven kids, I have to say we never really worried about safety. Television only arrived in South Africa in 1976, and when it did arrive, it was mainly news, children's shows and badly acted and produced South african soap operas which lacked the sophistication of those that people were watching overseas. Probably part of the sanctions enforced because of apartheid policies of the then white supremist government. So, we were forced to make our own entertainment, and growing up on a farm, there was plenty of mischief we could get up to. I guess, today you'd probably refer to us as a bunch of naughty kids. However, some of the mischief resulted in us learning some important life lessons about safety, which I thought I'd share with you.
Lesson 1: If you are not a part of a circus act, do not throw knives at people
We used to play this game called 'knifey-knifey' where, you guessed it, you had to throw knives at each other. This game was plenty of fun and worked like this. You pinched a steak knife or meat cleaver out of your mom's kitchen and went out into the front garden. You stood opposite each other, about a metre and a half apart. Three large paces I think we used to say. Facing each other, you then threw the steak knife near the person opposite you's foot. They then had to move their foot to the place where the knife landed, pull the knife and throw it near your foot and you moved your foot etc, until you were virtually doing the splits. The first person to fall on their bottom was the loser. Being quite supple and flexible in those days, I was invariably the winner. However, the day came when I was over-confident. From a seemingly impossible position with my legs spread so wide I was almost touching the ground, but not quite, I aimed carefully and threw the meat cleaver (we had decided to go big that day!) and narrowly missed the spot near my brother's foot I had been so carefully aiming for. The meat cleaver hurtled through the air and buried itself deep into my brother's foot. Instead of keeping the accident quiet and pulling the knife out gently, he screamed like a banshee, bringing my parents running out of the house to see who was being murdered. Instead of marvelling at my ability to almost do the splits, I was immediately dispatched to my room while they took my brother to the doctor's surgery 30km away to get the knife removed.
Lesson 2: If you plan on chasing after someone with a tractor, make sure that it is not on a gravel road with big rocks in the way
Once when playing down near the big barn, and building forts in the lucern bales, one of my brothers thought that it would be slightly amusing to grab my shoes and high tail it back to the house on the offroad bike. Now, the farm we lived on had very sandy soil. On a hot summer's day, the sand gets so hot that your feet burn if you're not wearing shoes. The sand was also the hiding place of devil's thorns which caused extreme pain if stood upon. So, stealing my shoes was an incredibly mean and childish thing to do. Luckily, parked next to the barn was one of our tractors with the trailer attached. I immediately leapt onto the tractor, started her up and chased after my brother, determined to beat him to a pulp and retrieve my shoes when I finally caught him. However, on this day it was not my destiny to catch my brother and retrieve my shoes. Intent on catching up with my brother and driving him off the road with the tractor, I failed to notice a large rock sticking up out of the gravel on the road. The tractor hit the rock at speed. The trailer behind fishtailed. As the tractor landed on the ground after flying through the air, the steering wheel swivelled in my hand and the tractor headed straight for the nearby chicken house. The trailer was pulling in the wrong direction as I desperately tried to regain control of the tractor. Too late, I hit the side of the chicken house traveling faster than the tractor's maximum speed. Chickens flew in all directions as the tractor careened through the chicken house coming to a grinding halt in front of my dad. He was not a happy person. I had to walk home in the hot buring sand, stopping every couple of minutes to take the thorns out of my feet, as I headed to my room. For the next few months my pocket money had to go into the cost of the repairs to the chicken house. My brother was sadly not punished for stealing my shoes.
Lesson 3: When bored with the company at a restaurant, don't play with candles and a lighter to keep yourself entertained
After an afternoon of sliding down sand dunes on flattened cardboard boxes and drinking copious amounts of red wine to give us the fortitude and strength to be able to walk through the soft deep sand to the top of the sand dune again, we had to meet up with a particularly boring couple at the local pizza place. Being a Gemini, I need to keep myself amused and had no interest in hearing about what shampoo the woman thought was the best one to use on oily hair. I casually picked up my friends' lighter and started flicking it and lit the candles which were part of the centrepiece on the table. All the time smiling inanely and nodding my head at the right time so that the woman on the other side of the table thought I was paying attention to her shampoo product story. Without thinking, I absent-mindedly picked up a candle and started to make wax-drip patterns on the table cloth. This proved to be a serious mistake. While nodding my head my hand holding the candle moved down at the same time as my head and the flame moved too close to the table cloth. In a flash, the table cloth was on fire! Luckily, the restaurant owner had a fire extinguisher handy and put out the flames immediately. His fast response saved us from a potential disaster. However, we were asked to leave and never to return, which I thought was a bit haqrsh as it was a genuine accident. Strangely enough, I can't remember ever meeting up with the boring couple again either.
Lesson 4: When taking part in a water fight, use plastic instead of glass to hold the water
School holidays and you're bored. So what do you do, you start a water fight with your brothers. Filling empty beer bottles with water, we chased each other around our large ranch-style farm house, hiding in rooms and splashing each other as we ran past. It was heaps of fun, we all quite wet, the floor got a little slippery, but the folks were away and we knew the floor would be dry before they arrived home. I was hiding behind the door in my parent's bedroom. The soft thud thud of footsteps told me that one of my brothers was approaching down the passage. I gingerly opened the door and stuck only my arm out with the beer bottle in my hand, to wet my brother as he went past. Unfortunately, he saw a movement and was swinging his hand around the door to wet me where I was hiding. The two bottles collided and shattered on impact, slicing my right thumb clean down the middle. No parents at home and the only one able to drive at that stage, meant that I had to leave my brothers to clean up the mess and drive myself to the doctor's surgery 30km away. With a dishcloth tied around the thumb to soak up the blood that was pumping out in spurts, I willed myself to hold it together and not faint while I drove down the highway to get it sewn back together.
Lesson 5: When catching fish, never cast without making sure that there is nobody behind you
As we had a holiday house at the beach, many a holiday was spent fishing. I was quite an ace at casting, able to send that hook flying through the air. My brother, obviously jealous at my incredible arm action, kept jumping next to me and mocking my amazing cast. I was determined to show him how good I was, by casting the furthest ever. Imagine my shock when the little hook didn't go sailing through the air like normal. Instead, I felt it being tugged like I'd already caught a fish. I peered anxiously into the still waters in front of me, to see what might have happened to my line, when suddenly I became aware of a strange yelping sound behind me. I had accidentally snagged my brother on his arm. We tried to remove the hook but to no avail and had to cut the line. Cursing my brother for interrupting a perfectly good afternoon's fishing, I was once again banished to my room while my parents rushed my brother to the emergency to get the hook cut out.
Lesson 6: When wanting to participate in the weekly Hubmob, make sure that you click on the make a request link in the relevant section in the forum
I have to confess, I was so excited when I saw that the Hubmob for this week was Health and Safety, that I immediately raced to start a new hob on the topic. I worked on the hub for a few days, doing research and talking to Chinese people on the staff. Finally, the Hubmob hub was finished and I happily published the hub and proudly added the link to the Hubmob Spot on the forum. However, I had forgotten to start the Hubmob hub by clicking on the request link. Princessa came up with a cunning plan for me to create a new hub, and add my original Health and Safety Hub's link onto this hub. So, here's the link to my original Health and Safety Hubmob Hub http://hubpages.com/hub/Shaking-up-Safety