It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. Two children dangling upside down from a goalpost eating a Dairylea creamy cheese treat. The potential danger doesn’t bear thinking about. And worse still, it’s all there for any youngster to watch on the telly, encouraging them to head for the fridge, pick up a couple of triangles and nip off to the park to do the same.

It’s enough to strike terror into the heart of any grown-up. Really? Am I exaggerating? Well not according to 14 very concerned viewers who complained to the Advertising Standards Authority, which has now banned the advert due to the risk of choking.

I can almost hear the sighs – yet another example of woolly, over-protective, molly-coddled nonsense? Far be it for me to question the medical veracity of the claim, but it got me thinking about the scrapes I was exposed to in my own childhood. And I’ve come to one firm conclusion . . . it’s a miracle I’m still alive.

Of course, for those of us who grew up in the health and safety-blind 70s or earlier, seatbelts in the back of cars were unheard of, while adults smoking in front of the kids was the norm. But even if that wasn’t enough to harm us, I had a few of my own unique ways of imperilling my very existence.

Read more: Amazon: Alexa: The new woman in my life is a breath of ‘fresh air’

Being a fan of the US stuntman Evel Knievel, I would often try to emulate my hero’s antics by freewheeling on my Chopper bike down the hill in the front of my house. Nothing overly dangerous about that. However, the dare was to see how long I could do this with my hands off the handlebars and my eyes closed without chickening out. Utter madness, made worse by the fact cars would turn into the street, resulting in a few near death incidents.

Then there was the time me and the gang (average age about eight) acquired a box of matches. Instead of making a camp fire in the woods we almost engulfed south Glasgow in an Aussie-style wildfire. The flames got a little out of control, and nearly took out a few trees. When I got home, I resembled a chimney sweep and reeked of smoke. My mother’s reaction? You can guess the rest.

Read more: Pope: Pets or children? Francis is barking up the wrong tree

Would I give my own children the same freedom? Absolutely no way. I freely admit my hypocrisy, but as long as it keeps them safe I’m comfortable with that. But deep down I know I’m doing them a disservice. As any expert in childhood development will tell you experiencing the thrills and spills of risk-taking boosts physical and emotional health, although I’m sure fire-raising isn’t part of that.

Perhaps we’re all a little too aware of perceived threats – over-sensitised by horror stories of freak accidents or stranger danger. Being informed is good, terrible things do happen, but it’s also important to put them into context – they are relatively rare. If any malevolent forces do exist it’s most likely to be ones lurking in the dark corners of the web and only a click away.

In fact, as I type these words I’m conscious my two boys are quite content on their tablets, watching … whatever? Right, that’s it – we’re off to the park to live life on the edge, take a few risks and maybe even eat some Dairylea – but not upside down.


Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald.