Send in the clowns: Britain’s bizarre new laws
Arvamus 31 Dec 2010  EWR
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The hyperregulation of everyday life – from clown shows to live-music events to sipping wine in a park – speaks to a profound reorganisation of the relationship between state and society.

Josie Appleton , Spiked

The erosion of civic freedoms in Britain over the past 10 years is perhaps best viewed through the eyes of a clown.

First, all the key aspects of the clown’s act have been deemed a health-and-safety risk: banned activities include blowing bubbles (in case someone slips), wearing giant shoes (in case the clown slips), and twisting balloons into animal shapes (in case children have latex allergies). Second, under the Licensing Act 2003, clowns have to get an ‘entertainment licence’ for each local authority in which they perform, which means a lengthy form delivered to several public bodies with a fee. Finally, of course, clowns work with children, which makes them prime suspects in terms of paedophilia and general dodginess, and to allay these suspicions they must wear their Criminal Records Bureau check on their sleeves (or keep it stashed in a pocket).

Ten years of regulation is summed up on the website of ‘Bimbo the magical clown’, who performs tricks with stuffed toys. Next to booking information, Bimbo disclaims in bold red text, bordered by stars: ‘Full Public Liability Insurance’; ‘Health & Safety Risk & Control [of substances hazardous to health]’; ‘Assessments available for viewing’; ‘CRB checked’.

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