Quintessentially English and the stuff of "and finally..." news items on TVs throughout the land, for more than six hundred years the bells of Ripon Cathedral have marked the start of the annual Pancake Race.
But no more. Yet another victim of our risk-averse society, the Very Reverend Keith Jukes, the Dean of Ripon has declared that intrusive and disproportionate Health and Safety legislation is a main reason why the race is now to be cancelled. Despite the worst injury in recent memory being a cut knee or grazed shin, insurance companies refuse to cover the event without bureaucratic and expensive measures.
It's the same in Blackpool, where Health and Safety legislation has forced Blackpool Council to cancel the Ballroom dancing for pensioners amid fears that they may injure themselves as they spin around the floor.
It reminds me of a situation some years ago where I and other local Councillors called for more lighting to a dark area of Tunbridge Wells Common, in order to make it safer for those walking home from the station. The answer came back that this would not be possible.
Apparently, to put up lights would imply that there was a reason why the area had become unsafe, and therefore the insurance company would double the premiums.
The Whitstable Oyster Festival, for years a source of pleasure and fun to local residents, also closed its doors a couple of years ago because it had been drowned in bureacracy, legislation and risk assessments.
Isn't it time for society to put its collective feet down and stop this bureacratic and obstructive nonsense?