Tuesday, 16 March 2010

If Liam ruled the world

Parents of fat and unhealthy children could be receiving a letter to warn them of their child’s lack of fitness if a plan for a new MOT for school kids gets the go ahead.

I was about to launch into one of my libertarian rants railing against the encroaching nanny state… but I don’t know whether it’s the painkillers or the fatigue from fighting the pain, but I simply can’t summon up the enthusiasm to have a real go.

Okay, I can’t blame the pain entirely; I think it’s the nanny state that’s worn me down, coupled with the bovine stupidity of some members of the public. I mean, the government has got a bit of a point about unhealthy children. Why are there so many fat and unhealthy children these days? I suppose fear of paedophiles has stopped many kids from enjoying a healthy outdoor lifestyle, and the weather doesn’t help much either. Secondly, schools seem to have dropped competitive sport in favour of diversity lessons and global warming propaganda. Then there’s the scandalous sell-off of school playing fields for yet more rabbit-hutch housing. Is it any wonder that kids resemble lard buckets?

Maybe children do need to be tested for fitness if their parents won’t keep an eye on their body mass index. But even if the unhealthy ones are picked out, what’s the government going to do about it? Take the kids off to fat camp? Withdraw the parents’ fat-ration card?

I note that it’s the government’s chief medical officer, Liam Donaldson, who has floated this idea. Mr Donaldson, a pasty-faced and slightly overweight character, has previous form in nannying and is due to retire very soon so is making the most of his exit by spouting as much illiberal crap as he can possibly manage. It's fair to say that Mr Donaldson isn’t a natural libertarian. If he ruled the world there would be no alcohol, no tobacco, no slouching and no meat. And yet, in a logical world, he has a point. And yet I can’t help thinking what a bloody miserable world it would be if Donaldson and his ilk were in complete charge.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’ll have to get up for my cold shower followed by a five-mile run and a lovely bowl of gruel for breakfast.


  1. I'm glad I'm not the only to notice that he is slightly chubby himself - perhaps his mother and father could be informed of their son's apparent lack of interest in personal fitness via a letter from his superiors?

    Gosh, what's next, is the government going to fit big screens in everybody's home and force us all to exercise for 45 minutes before work and school? How very Big Brother-esque of them that would be!

    Not that I don't think something needs to be done about the country's collective growing waistband, but surely lessons on nutrition and healthy eating would be more beneficial? I left school just five years ago, yet I left with no real knowledge of food groups or risks of eating too much with little exercise (yes, it should be common sense but to children it isn't!) and maybe if they had focused more on teaching this important information and less on forcing children to attend so-called 'social studies' (where we simply sat and talked for 50 minutes each day because the teachers had no idea what to teach in these made-up lessons) then my generation would have a better idea of how to teach the next generation to eat properly and exercise frequently.

    Hope you are well and are healing well XTM.

  2. Sounds like fun even if with all the pain killers you do it in your head !!! At least the sun is shinning for you. Get them knees up TM

    Pain killers can be wonderful things ask my husband he achieved all sorts last spring following abdo surgery till he realised it was all in his head thanks to his meds

    Hope you feel much more comfortable soon

  3. Dont even get me STARTED on the nanny state.
    Do you know, the other day I was sitting next to someone at a party who was 'assisting' the Tory MP to 'get Crawley'. I was pretty interested as to how they were going to do that, and then chatted to him about a course I had been on about speech and language difficultes and the marked effect it has on folk... a high proportion of people in prison have poor language, blah, blah, blah. There is some really cool research on this and it is far from boring. Anyway, as I talked I could see this man's face glazing over. HE WASN'T EVEN LISTENING!! How on earth will this lovely country of ours get anywhere if the people changing it wont listen. Dammit.
    Hey, thanks for listening!! xx

  4. I lied about the five-mile run :-) Good point, Toni. Schools should teach nutrition. Mind you, if the nutritionists I saw in hospital are anything to go by, they could do with going back to school too!

  5. Schools should teach how to prepare tasty meals with (reasonably) healthy ingredients. I think the emphasis should be on tasty as, if it's advertised as healthy, most kids won't touch it.
    A tasty pasta or cottage pie will always go down well - no need to say it can be healthy as well.

  6. perhaps the fact that us parents do not get time to whip our children into shape is because by the time we have put in enough hours at work to pay all the taxes and bills and have enough left over to live on, we are too exhausted to do anything! Maybe if the government stopped paying for consultants and experts to spout so much rubbish and stopped spending money on giving non working (and no intention of working) people benefits +++ that we as a country cannot afford, we would have enough time and energy to enjoy our children and keep them active.... I know there are many people who genuinely need their benefits, but there are very many who just know that they are better off not working and claiming ++.

  7. It is hard to know who to blame for the state the children are in today.

    Most mothers are not that good at cooking healthy or wholesome meals or have no cooking skills at all, or cannot be bothered, or are working all day and have no time to cook.

    The ready meals that are frozen are a boon, but most are unhealthy, pizza is always the handy meal, but that is full of fatty cheese and salt.

    Then you have places like MuckDonalds, where most children these days go to have their meals.

    All we had as kids were the local chip shops, if it was affordable we would have fish and chips now and then, but most of the time we would all have home cooked meals, no matter if our parents were working or not, the meal would be on the table for us.

    There were cookery lessons in school, the lessons were then called 'domestic science'. Our mothers then , no matter how busy they were, taught us basic skills in cooking a decent meal, plus baking cakes.

    But in them days (60`s), we didn`t have nintendo or any other computer game,both our parents worked hard for pittance money. We went out to play in the fresh air, climbing trees, fishing, catching field mice, looking in ponds for frogs, building dens, going for a picnic, we never got into trouble as we knew respect then and morals, all the adults we knew were Aunty or uncle, even though we were not related.

    We actually froze in fear at seeing a local bobby doing his rounds, even though we were innocent, we knew right from wrong and the biggest risk was nicking apples from the headmasters tree and getting bitten on the ass by his terrier.

    Kids these days will never experience what we as kids had, a childhood with risks and adventure.

    The nanny state has seen to it ,that parents conform to the standards they should stick to according to the government that want robotic people in the future.

    All our food was cooked in lard, we never had freezers and fridges and food was kept on marble slabs in the pantry, we had condensed milk sandwitches, OXO with hot water in a cup and door stop slices of bread with a scraping of butter.

    Beans on toast, and the toast was done on a long fork over a coal fire, pigs trotters... a delacasy today, but it was the norm to have them and make soup out of the water they were boiled in.

    I am so glad we all had a hard life years ago, it taught us a lot of things,and we were all family orientated and looked out for one another, be it a relative or friend or neighbour.

    Perhaps the world these days is to advance too soon, all values are lost, morals , standards and respect, plus the most important of all.... Time spent on your children, to teach them basic skills they will never learn in any school, Parents are the biggest influence on a young mind, they look to us to teach them, and I am glad I taught my three boys at a young age all the skills I had been taught, even though I had to hold down three jobs and struggle to bring them up with no help, I gave them one precious thing besides love.... TIME.

    I hope you are getting better XTM, I can only imagine your pain as I am in total agony with arthritis myself and know what sheer pain is on a grand scale, try meditation, it helps me so much.


  8. Has it really changed?

    I was born in 1940s, in my teens in the 60s. I remember the Merseybeats visiting the local church hall about 1962.

    My mother could cook and bake. Unfortunately my father preferred his food dead and all vegetables were expected to be boiled until they were a glutinous mess.

    We were barred from the local chippy; our dog had killed their cat. Nowadays the precursor to a prosecution under the dangerous dogs act, in those days just a shrug of the shoulders, dogs were known to kill cats if they caught them, stood to reason.

    We lived near Bachelors Foods HQ so we were in the trial area for their ready meals. Ham & Pea soup was trialled about 1954, Vesta foods later in the 50s. When I prepared my first Vesta Paella my father walked in and yelled “Who’s been cooking that b****y w*g food?”

    In the 60`s I didn’t go out to play in the fresh air, climb trees, fish, catch field mice, look in ponds for frogs or anything like that. First job on arrival home was walk the dog, second task was one hour’s piano practice, after that tea followed by 3 hours homework, then I had to give the dog his final walk before going to bed. Saturdays go to piano practice and fetch the family meat from the butchers shop near where my father grew up. Sunday attended Methodist church and Sunday School. Skip any of that and, if I wasn’t quick enough to duck, sprint up the stairs and lock my bedroom door, I’d get a punch in the face from my father followed by a good kicking.

    A childhood with risks and adventure? Well when I was 14 I can remember taking my 9 year old sister to A&E with a suspected broken jaw after my father punched her. My mother was paying her annual visit to the local mental hospital, she usually attempted suicide once a year, her elder sisters had told her she’d married my father and it was her duty to stay with her man and her kids.

    Frozen in fear at seeing a local bobby? I usually froze in fear at the sight of my father, particularly if I expected him to be attending a city council, Labour party or union meeting and instead he came home early. Nicking apples from the headmaster’s tree? I’d have needed an hour’s bus ride to reach the upper class city suburb where he lived.

    Sliced bread from the CooP was used by all, only those with time and leisure bought bread needing to be sliced. We usually had dripping on our bread, saved from the meat tin. Alternative was a slice of cold Yorkshire pudding, cooked the traditional Yorkshire way in a flat baking tray, none of this Gordon Ramsay puff pastry.

    Pigs trotters? Those were eaten by my father, a child of WW1, the rest of us wouldn’t touch them. The dog got half a pig’s head, stank the kitchen out and my mother loathed boiling it but my father was true to his backstreet roots.

    Family orientated, looking out for neighbours? Where I grew up it was dog eat dog. One of my older cousins tells a tale of a family taking a brick out of a cellar wall and stealing the next door neighbour’s coal. Until the eldest son saw by candlelight a hand come through the wall and hit it with a hammer. Although I can remember my mother calling out the neighbour’s husbands to drag my father off me when he was bouncing my head off the living room wall.

    If I sound cynical, well I didn’t enjoy my childhood and I didn’t have any good old days until I left home. I was sleeping on park benches before I went to University in 67. My mother spent part of every year in a mental hospital until my father died. My sister was thrown out of home when she was 17. My father believed he owned his family, body and soul. Neither my sister nor I went back until my father’s funeral. No-one stepped in to do anything, when we were growing up, it wasn’t done then. I have an American friend of similar age to me. When comparing notes on our upbringings we found we had much in common. I met others from my era who had similar experiences. For some of us it wasn't roses.

    I don’t think Ness knew what a real hard life was like.

  9. That sounds awful. However, it isn't the first time I've heard of the harsh upbringings in the 40s, 50s and 60s. My mother recalls being hit on the head by her father... with a hammer. I imagine it still goes on today but hopefully things aren't so bad. It's difficult for me to say as I live in a very nice and genteel part of the country.

  10. I’m sure Liam Donaldson has done all sorts of really useful things, but the new labour culture that he has contributed to (in no uncertain manner) has to include:

    Your silliest job titles
    [Lifted from the BBC News website: Magazine, 17th March 2010] ...

    19. I'm a modality manager in a hospital. Patients never know what that means, so I explain that it's just a newfangled, politically correct title for a good old ward sister (the way I usually introduce myself). Patients often get a bit worried when they first see my name badge and ask me what exactly a mortality manager does.
    Brigitte, Hove

  11. Good afternoon ETM - sorry to hear that not is as well as it should be with the boring leg.

    Anyway - a thoughtful selection of posts over the past few days - I am just a spoiled one I guess on reading some of the stories above - though not suffering hardships, childhood was certainly not a happy time.

    Anyway - greetings to all - The Chelsea Gang (their father being in a right foul mood after the special one and his re-appearance at Stamford Bridge last night) send greetings to Whisky x

    Hoping for some better "leg" news ......

    Best, Cats' Mother

  12. Thanks, Sarah. Sorry to hear the special one sent your children's father into a spin. The leg is misbehaving and frankly I'm bored of not walking and beginning to wonder if mobility will ever return. On the bright side, if I don't get to walk again at least I can keep my blue parking badge. However, I'd rather swap it for mobility any day. Whisky would send his greetings but he's asleep following a particularly large lunch of a whole pouch of 'As Good As It Looks' cat food for Seniors. I cover up the word senior when I'm feeding him in order not to offend him... he's 14 but refuses to act his age. x