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U3A Writing: A Short Short Story

Elaine Lawton deplores the nonsensical lack of help for smaller people.

Who doesn't remember the tale of the hobyahs in the second grade reader? They were bloodthirsty enough to be excised from the contents of the reader for some time, but were later reinstated, when it must have been decided that the current little Grade Two tots were at least as ghoulish as their parents and grandparents.

What I'm recalling in particular, now, is the emphasis on the stature of the old couple in the story: they were the "little" old man and the "little" old woman.

When I read the story as a child I accepted that it was an appropriate description and didn't question the reason for the diminutive adjective. Now I realise that "little," allied to age, refers to the fact that one's spine compacts as the discs wear and thin, and that everyone is shorter in age than they were in youth. And therein lies the rub!

People like me, who started life short and are now shorter, find it very difficult to reach the higher shelves at the supermarket, for instance, and are always on the lockout for those of taller stature to provide assistance in reaching what is too high for us.

There is a space under the bottom shelf in the supermarket where I shop, and I have mentioned repeatedly that it would be a good idea to have a small step tucked away at intervals underneath this shelf, so that it could be pulled out, used to assist those of the short brigade and then returned to its place. The answer is always the same: the Health and Safety Regulations would not allow it!
One wonders how those of our generation ever survived to adulthood without such regulations - but we did.

In an over-regulated and litigious world, whatever happened to common sense and personal responsibility?


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