It’s time to stop with the helium balloons, says Mark Murphy

We have to stop with helium balloons, says Mark - do you agree?

We have to stop with helium balloons, says Mark - do you agree? - Credit: Archant

BBC Radio Suffolk’s Mark Murphy used to like helium balloons, but not any more

It’s the time of the year that us media types call the “silly season”, a time when not much is happening as lots of people are away on holiday.

It’s the same every year when we’re scraping around for news stories. Usually it’s a big cat like creature on the loose or a sighting of a shark somewhere. We’ve certainly had the shark story but no big cat so far, mind you we have had a wallaby on the loose in Braintree.

So this week we’ve covered “important stories” like the demise of foreign phrase books, the fact we don’t truthfully tell our GP how much alcohol we use and why do bank notes not come out of a cash machine the same way round?

We also had listeners to my BBC Radio Suffolk breakfast show hunting down the back of their sofas for old pound coins. Apparently there are still 169 million of them in circulation. You can’t spend them but you can hand them in at your bank or hand them over to a charity. So if you’re stuck for something to do this weekend it could keep you or your kids occupied for an hour or so.

We covered the mid-life crisis isn’t what it used to be. Instead of buying a speedboat, sports car or trading your partner in for a younger sportier model we’re going running instead. I suppose some trainers, vest and shorts is a much cheaper option than divorce.

Another big story was Theresa May and her curtsey to Prince William which was slightly awkward but again it filled plenty of column inches in the national papers. We spent a few hours debating terms like love and darling and are they appropriate terms to use to strangers. This was after it was reported that Gatwick airport employees were told not to use the phrases following a single complaint.

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It was split down the middle with some saying it was over familiar and others saying they quite liked it. The term that most people hated was the word guys, when referring to a group of people which included women. The word dear didn’t fair too well either with someone saying they didn’t have antlers!

You can tell from that little lot that it’s been fairly quiet on the news front this week with the notable exception of Boris Johnson!

One story did get the phone lines ringing and that’s the issue of helium balloon releases and single use balloons ending up hurting wildlife. We followed the story of Jason Alexander and his marathon beach clean along the Suffolk coast from Lowestoft to Felixstowe. One image he tweeted certainly had an impact. It was a photograph of a bird which appeared to have died after getting tangled in a balloon and string.

He’s now calling for a total ban of single use helium balloons and balloon releases. After hearing from him on the show I tend to agree with him. It was about twenty years ago I organised a balloon race for Children in Need and we let a thousand balloons into the sky to see how far they’d go.

Now I wouldn’t dream of doing that now but in those days we weren’t aware of the environmental impact they could have.

I know lots of people like to release balloons and lanterns in memory of a loved one but now we know what danger they can pose to wildlife should we being doing it?

Should companies give away promotional helium balloons to children? I know the kids love them but most of them end up being let go and of course they could end up anywhere. Just before writing this column I walked into Ipswich town centre and even found a promotional balloon floating along Westgate Street in Ipswich.

I’d love to know what you think about balloon releases, why not write to the letters page and give me your thoughts.

Oh and by the way if you spot a big cat, don’t forget to let me know !

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