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Labelling our way to safety.

WHILE THE EU is taking care of big things, such as paying Danegeld to African leaders to try to stem the flow of illegal immigrants into the continent, and paying another load of Danegeld to the Turks for similar purposes while at the same time fast-tracking Turkey into the EU, it’s reassuring to know they haven’t taken their eye off the less dramatic but just as important matters confronting us.

Important matters, as in candles and how not to set fire to ourselves with them. Instructions have been laid out for manufacturers in a recent “Annex” to a Directive originally passed back in 2001 on product safety. This brief paper tells us how we should set lighted candles in containers or holders that won’t fall over, and that said holders or containers should not “cause fire” themselves. Don’t stand a candle in a paper holder or a box of fireworks and set light to it — that sort of thing. Your candles will come labelled just in case it hadn’t occurred to you that naked flames are dangerous.

The Eurocrats have kindly supplied suggestions for the instructions:

g) In particular for indoor candles, the following or equivalent warnings shall be either written conspicuously or conveyed by pictograms that are easily understandable by consumers:

– ‘Never leave a burning candle unattended.’
– ‘Burn candle out of the reach of children and pets.’
– ‘Do not burn candles on or near anything that can catch fire.’

daredevilsI don’t think any of us would argue that this is sound advice indeed. But rather obvious, and like the labels on cigarette packets declaring “Smoking Kills” and on bottles of booze admonishing us to “Please Drink Responsibly” the idea that it needs to be displayed is predicated on the assumption that we’re all basically children who have to be kept in line by the grown ups in Westminster and Brussels. Not that a bad experience with candles and burnt fingers or a scorched carpet would be enough for us to learn our lesson, of course, (or even a smidgen of common sense) because in the eyes of our betters we are permanently children, permanently in need of correction and instruction. That requires more legislation. Luckily for the bureaucrats that means more employment for them, paid out of the pockets of us children, permanently.

And if the candle-makers are not sticking to the rules then there’s always Rapex (I jest not), the EU’s own Rapid Alert System for tackling dangerous non-food products, to chase them down. Never fear, for the European Commission is eternally vigilant, and not content with what it’s done so far, is in the process of discussing a “new package of legislative and non-legislative measures to improve customer product safety and to strengthen market surveillance”.

How long must we wait for this new package, though? After all, it’s taken fourteen years for the geniuses in the Berlaymont to come up with their dainty little candle annex. During this time the EU has been wracked by financial and economic crisis, a huge rise in unemployment, a surge in Islamic terrorism, and the absolute failure to control mass immigration from outside the continent. All of this is a result its own policies and none of it came with an official pictographic warning label on its packaging.

Another fourteen years and half of Europe’s cities may well be in flames – and not through someone letting a candle fall over because they didn’t read the damn label on the packet.

suxcoverPoet, writer and lecturer, Michael Blackburn lives in Lincolnshire. His poetry has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies over the years, including Being Alive (Bloodaxe) and Something Happens, Sometimes Here (Five Leaves Press). His most recent collection is Spyglass Over The Lagoon. A selection of his Currente Calamo columns, Sucks To Your Revolution: Annoying The Politically Correct (US), is available as a Kindle ebook.

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