Let it Be

Posted on by Steven Lewis


A while back when I was reclining on the loungers of a certain beach shack on Occheuteal Beach in Sihanoukville, I noticed that their rickety sign post had an array of large rusty nails sticking out at just the right height to scoop a passing five year child’ eyeball from its socket.

I thought about borrowing a hammer and taking care of this lapse in safety with a few strokes. I wondered why it hadn”t occurred to the owners of the place who have two children. Then I realised the children would just have to learn to be careful. And the children were careful! There were dangers and pitfalls all around.

The nails were merely one potential peril amongst many. I realised not so much that I liked the nails being there but that I liked the Cambodians disregard for them. Perverse? I just wish people would leave things be sometimes. There are few arguments for not wearing a helmet when on a motorbike except perhaps, “I want to take the risk and I would rather you kept your nose out of my business”.

Also maybe, “I like the feeling of the wind going through what is left of my hair”. The logic behind safety is seen to be irrefutable and gives all sorts of meddling do-gooders carte blanche to tell us what to do and how we should behave. Personally I don”t like the world they have planned for me and would rather take my chances.

One reason I find Cambodia so refreshing is I live in a nanny state here in Britain. When I was a teenager we all thought nothing of piling into a car drunk after a party and getting home. It didn”t occur to any of us then that we were apparently no better than murderers. On the contrary, it was a gas. “Oh look, we nearly died!” Social irresponsibility. Shame. I love lazy people. They can swing in a hammock on a beautiful shoreline and be content. Others will see room for improvement.

“This place is so cool! We could open up a really cool beach bar and deliver Mekong whiskey to dreadlocked youth down an ice slide whilst Tim juggles fire to the accompaniment of a techno/trance beat”. Perfect! Yes. And bang goes the beach. If you find yourself sitting somewhere surrounded by beauty and you appreciate this beauty, don”t go planning a rave. Try shutting up and listening to what is already naturally provided. The sounds of the birds, the wind through the leaves or the crash of surf. That is the soundtrack! It doesn”t need improving or augmentation! Especially from the monotonous drone of a badly played digereedoo. Unless you are of Aboriginal descent and sitting around a fire in Australia.

Similarly I like my local bar in London just the way it is. A grotty hole where it is acceptable to fall backwards off your stool and not get barred or thrown out. Very soon now in the UK we won”t be able to smoke in my pub even though not one person is bothered by it! Strange that. And here was me thinking we were all grown up! Progress in public health and safety. The figures speak for themselves. There is no valid defence. I”m aware of my lack of cohesion in this posting and I’m probably not explaining myself very well. But some of you might understand. The battle is lost. No competition. Progress sometimes feels to me like a spreading disease rather than a conquering cure. There is nothing worse than pity for someone who doesn”t want it. Coconuts sometimes fall and brain passers-by. Some people have died this way.

How about a scheme to ring fence all trees with black and yellow stripes. Put up danger signs. It might look ugly but if it saves just one precious life it will all be worth it. Come to think of it I could “raise awareness” for this oversight. Maybe set up a scheme. Get hold of a few gruesome pictures of stoved in skulls to make my point. Get backing. Impose my will. And get a free holiday while I”m at it. Or I could of course let it be.

Steven Lewis

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