Fishing men from the river in London and Derry

Trenton Oldfield is pulled from the River Thames after stopping the 158th Oxford Cambridge University Boat Race last Saturday. (1704BM01)
Trenton Oldfield is pulled from the River Thames after stopping the 158th Oxford Cambridge University Boat Race last Saturday. (1704BM01)

Review safety arrangements on the Peace Bridge said the MP for Coleraine and Limavady. Gregory Campbell made his call after a man was rescued from the Foyle over the holidays. He had climbed around the glass panels at one of the bridge’s seating areas, before being seen to fall into the river.

No Gregory, we don’t need a review of the safety arrangements. They’re fine as they are. It was a nonsensical call to make. We want less nannying, not more. Of course it’s good that the man was fished out of the river with only minor injuries but it’s irritating to hear daft calls like this. Mr Campbell should know better. We don’t need more physical measures to protect us from ourselves.

Think about it for a second. If it’s too difficult to climb around the barriers close to the seats, won’t anyone who wants to harm themselves climb through the wire fence a little further along or go elsewhere? How could safety arrangements ever be made foolproof, so to speak? Would the bridge have to be entirely fenced in? Or should it be closed? Wouldn’t we also need to fence in the other two bridges or close them as well? And, when we’re at it don’t we need a high wall along both sides of the Foyle? What about the sea and all other rivers, including the Bann in Gregory’s own constituency? So please, can we cut out the codology of such absurd calls?

Amazingly, my totally tongue-in-cheek call to fence off the entire river has actually been made before in all seriousness. About 25 years ago, a police commander suggested it to the city council. It was completely daft.

Meanwhile, a man was also pulled from the Thames over the holidays. Australian, Trenton Oldfield, 35, was dragged from London’s river after he swam in front of the Oxford and Cambridge boat race.

Like the man who was in the Foyle, he’s lucky to be alive. Racing eights travel at over three metres a second and if the swimmer had been hit by the bows, he’d never have spoken again. If he’d been hit by the oars he probably would have been badly injured.

Apparently, he was protesting about “elitism”. At least he’s right in the sense that sport is all about elitism. It’s all about striving to be the best. Does that damage society? I don’t think so. Surely it does an immense amount of good to those who take part and gives much enjoyment to those who watch. What a dull world it would be without sport!

Maybe his point was that the boat race is between two elite universities? Was he objecting to toffs on the Thames? But is aiming for the best in education any more damaging than it is in sport? And, aren’t even the elite universities making serious efforts not to be elitist? They want to be open to all on academic merit alone. Fenton himself is a former rower and graduate of the prestigious London School of Economics.

By the way, rowing really isn’t an elitist sport. It’s open to all and anyone with the right talent can reach the top. For instance, Britain’s Steve Redgrave, who has five Olympic gold medals, is from a perfectly ‘ordinary’ social background. Also by the way, Oxford had the race won when it was stopped. In the re-start they broke an oar and were left with no chance. It was a cruel blow to them.