Denoting something designed to prevent injury or damage
guard: a device designed to prevent injury or accidents
The condition of being protected from or unlikely to cause danger, risk, or injury
the state of being certain that adverse effects will not be caused by some agent under defined conditions; "insure the safety of the children"; "the reciprocal of safety is risk"
a safe place; "He ran to safety"
A very young child, esp. one newly or recently born
pamper: treat with excessive indulgence; "grandparents often pamper the children"; "Let's not mollycoddle our students!"
The youngest member of a family or group
a very young child (birth to 1 year) who has not yet begun to walk or talk; "the baby began to cry again"; "she held the baby in her arms"; "it sounds simple, but when you have your own baby it is all so different"
the youngest member of a group (not necessarily young); "the baby of the family"; "the baby of the Supreme Court"
A young or newly born animal
A land fit for the mediocre
The last slam-door rolling-stock on what I still think of as the Southern Region ran in September 2005. The massed slamming of carriage doors, the groan of accelerating traction motors and the particular clatter and rumble of these trains were characteristic sounds of the South London suburbs. With their disappearance the capital has become, by a small degree, a little more anonymous, a little less itself.
I still break out in a muck sweat to recall the occasion ...it must have been early in the summer of 1967... when I accompanied a steam-crazed pal to Nine Elms shed, then in its final months of activity. We didn't really know where the shed was and thought we might be able to see it from the line. Accordingly we caught a train from Waterloo down to Clapham Junction. We were in one of those full-width compartments, which gave unlimited scope for misbehaviour between stations. Somewhere south of Vauxhall ...showing off, of course, as one does at that age... I thought it might amuse my friend if I opened the door a chink as the train was going along. You will remember that the doors had handles on the outside which you rotated through a half-turn; but on the inside there was a sliding latch, with a stiff spring, which you couldn't hold onto. As soon as I had opened the door a chink, to my distress, the wind rushed in and blew it wide open. I had not anticipated this development, but managed to recruit my wits in time to stop the door from describing its complete 180° arc and coming to rest flat against the side of the carriage. I now had to drag the heavy door back against the wind resistance. The trouble was that I was gripping the window-frame close to the hinged side of the door, greatly increasing the requisite effort. My friend had now rendered assistance by holding onto my free arm ...from well within the compartment. I noted, with some asperity, his disinclination to involve himself in my predicament to the extent of approaching the gaping doorway. In this attitude I could not reposition my hand on the window frame without letting go. Ten feet perpendicularly beneath my nose the track bed and live rails whirled past at 50mph.
Anyway, I lived to tell the tale. I suppose most of us can recall half a dozen misadventures, mostly dating from youth, when, had things gone just a little differently, we might easily have been killed. It already seems odd that once, quite recently, people were trusted to open and close train doors for themselves. Solicitude for our "health and safety" would be touching were it motivated by tenderness for humanity rather than the wish to avoid bad publicity and legal liability. Responsible grown-up people shouldn't need the State, in the guise of baby-sitter, to protect them from their own folly. Fools must take their chances and learn from their mistakes. It's a hard thing to say, but occasional tragedies are the price society pays for the autonomy of the individual citizen.
My memories of the Southern Region emus go back to the days when they were painted a decorous all-over green. I'm afraid I could never quite get to grips with all that business of 4-SUBs, 2-EPBs, motor brake seconds and driver trailing composites, but I regarded the SR suburban system as one of the capital's wonders. These units, 4-CIGs I think, were among the last of the "traditional" units and the least appealing. Their appearance was uninspired and I always thought those dirt-trap recesses for the cables were unsightly. The photograph was taken at Horley, where I spent an enjoyable hour watching the trains go by as I sat and smoked a cigar. This was in 2003. By 2010 this innocent recreation would be prohibited.
In Mothers Arms
A homeless mother holds her child snug and warm, collecting coins from strangers on busy Bangkok streets.
Or is it? I pass these scenes daily and think about corruption at even these basic levels of society. Being a developing economy, Thailand has very few social programs that we find in the West. In a country where so many have so little, children are often exploited by organized gangs to beg for money or sell flowers on the streets.
Women are recruited to do the same, and given a baby for the day if they don't already have one. Babies are sometimes rented, stolen or forcibly borrowed from real mothers, and then commonly traded between women beggars who work for these gangs. Most often they are forced to turn over all earnings, in the end being paid less than a dollar a day.
Often I wonder, will the baby eat if I don't put money in the cup? Will the baby eat even if I do? And even more often I wonder if the woman holding the child is really a mother at all. It is common to see five and six year old children roaming free selling flowers at 2am to tourists in the bar areas. If you watch closely you'll eventually see an adult hiding out of sight somewhere, usually a woman, watching and waiting for the child to deliver the earnings. There is no way to know if there is any relationship between the two, other than a business arrangement.
When I see pre-teens selling flowers in these areas, it saddens me because I know that in only a few short years many will simply toss the flowers (and their minders) and move up to working in the same bars they're selling flowers outside of now .
Such is life. I rarely tip the cup. Sometimes I offer to buy a child something to eat, but only if they eat it when I buy it. Once a child ran off even with the food I bought him, delivering it to his minder. Everything's a racket. Everyone's a cheat. That's the world some of these children grow up in.
Please take a look through the rest of my photographs and comment freely.