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The International Writers Magazine: Health and Safety in London

If London Became the New Venice
Lyn Funnel
I’ve always known that Venice is a city with canals instead of roads. But nothing, I mean nothing, prepares you for the Real Thing. Life revolves around the canals. Everything has to be delivered by boat, then transferred on to large trollies to be pushed through the narrow lanes and up and down the bridge steps by hunky, tattooed porters.


I saw a large red Smeg fridge and a huge marble bath in shop windows and I wondered how on earth – I  mean on water – they got there!
No doubt our dustmen think they have a hard job, dragging plastic bins along and emptying them into a lorry that chews up all the rubbish.

Imagine piling up bin bags onto a trolley, pushing it through the streets, dropping the bin bags and the trolley onto a boat, then unloading them again somewhere else.
Our climate is apparently altering due to Global Warming and Britain is regularly suffering terrible floods.

So how would we cope if Britain became the New Venice?
Passengers transferring from the airport on Vaporettos wouldn’t just walk up a gangplank carrying their luggage. The gangplank would have to be firmly fixed and fitted with a handrail. There would be ‘Mind your head’ and ‘Mind the steps’ signs everywhere. Then an announcement would be made before the boat departed; ‘Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Welcome on board this Vaporetto. We will be leaving in five minutes and our journey will take approximately 50 minutes. Will you please fasten your seat belts and remain seated for the duration of the journey.. Please don’t stand up to take photos or admire the scenery. When you leave please make sure that you take all your luggage with you. Make sure that you read the safety details in the pocket in front of your seat. There will now be a demonstration of how to use the lifejackets….’ Blahdy-blahdy-blah.

Gondoliers will have to wear hard hats instead of straw boaters in case they hit their heads on low bridges, and gloves so that the poles don’t hurt their hands. Luminous yellow jackets must be worn while gondolas are in motion. No singing or accordion-playing will be permitted in the gondolas due to complaints in certain residential areas.

Passengers must wear lifejackets, hard hats and seatbelts. They will have to listen to a five-minute talk on ‘What to do if Your Gondola Runs into Trouble’, and sign a disclaimer.

Double yellow lines would be painted along historical walls so that workers can only moor their boats in certain areas where parking metres have been roughly concreted into the ground. The transferring of goods from boats to trolleys would be limited to five minutes to avoid congestion.

All trollies must have a flashing light on the top and make a beeping noise.
Porters would only be allowed to carry two boxes at once to avoid personal injury, and never stacked on top of each other in case one falls off and injures a passing pedestrian.
Steel-capped boots and industrial gloves must be worn at all times.

Due to sexual equality, women porters will be allowed, but as the work will be far too hard and demanding for them, all bridges would have to be fitted with stair-lifts, and special trolley lanes will be painted pink to avoid weaving through all the tourist groups.
Only a maximum of six months’ sick leave will be allowed for damaged ligaments, backache and stress caused by asking people to get out of the way.

Every historical bridge will have to have wide concrete ramps for the disabled. The cement must be mixed elsewhere and transported from the mooring-bay four streets away. Masks must be worn while carrying it.

All the steps and every canal must have white-painted edges, and strong high barriers to prevent drunks and old ladies from toppling in the water. Warning signs must be clearly displayed everywhere to warn people that they’re approaching water and that swimming is forbidden. Suitably-dressed Water Wardens will whiz around in small motor boats, slapping tickets on illegally-moored boats.

Councils all over the country will regularly hold expensive dinners to discuss Health and Safety, and plans to stop historic Britain from sinking.
But before any decisions were made, I think Britain would sink under all the paperwork, don’t you?
© Lyn Funnell September 2010

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