Getting away from hobbies for a moment, I need to vent my spleen on one of the aspects of modern life which I believe is strangling our civilisation - moral hypocrisy. Every day I am bombarded via the media and, by osmosis, the opinions of my friends and colleagues with a barrage of seemingly contradictory messages. It drives me mental. Here are a couple of my favourites of the moment:
The Great Food and Bodyshape Debacle.
Being fat is bad. Really bad. Being fat encourages heart attacks, asthma, diabetes and a number of other diseases and illnesses that costs the NHS £X billion pounds a year. Thats an unacceptable burden that the tax payer should not have to pay and is singularly the fault of the fat bastard.
Being thin is bad. Poor Keira Knightley (known universally as a stick insect) is so thin she MUST have anorexia. She really needs to pork up a little because she is a role model for hundreds of young girls.
What? The 100s of young girls that you have just scared senseless about the dire consequences of eating too much, now must eat enough to make them 'the perfect weight'? OK, everything in moderation - no-one is allowed to be fat and no-one is allowed to be thin. Well, expect female media stars like Brittney Spears who is vilified in the popular press for succumbing to the bodily ravages of having one child soon after another and has put on a few pounds. ZOMG! She's fat! She has let herself go! She must slim down NOW!
And then we have the food debacle that goes along with it! I have been following the case of William Guntrip, a kid who has been punished at school for selling his classmates sweets when they have been removed from school canteen. Fair enough, the school probably sees this as wrong but the reactions in the ever entertaining 'Metro' newspaper have been nothing short of hilarious. "[Guntrip] ...is little better that selling alcohol/drugs to addicts in rehabilitation"
The Jamie Oliver revolution continues apace with chubby kids being forced to run fat laps during games and the proposal that kids should be weighed and graded on their fitness as part of their school assessment.
Of course, this would all be great if we all ate the correct foods and this message is pummelled into us ad infinitum at the moment by either Findus or Birds Eye with the most annoying, patronising adverts I have ever witnessed. If you haven't seen them, they have found an actor that looks as near to Ray Mears as you can get without being accused of genetic modification and had him investigate the dodgy practices of the fishing industry. This includes the shocking revelations that cod which isn't frozen goes off quickly, farmed salmon has a colourant added to food to make it shocking pink like fresh salmon due to the lack of prawns in their diet and that fish fingers sometimes have preservatives in them. What makes the adverts so annoying is the way that the actor manages to look as if these revelations are as serious as say, discovering a sight of mass genocide or having your grandmother impaled on a spike before you. The utter disappointment he puts into his voice when he reveals 'I thought they were joking?' regarding fish flesh colour charts is Oscar nomination stuff. What the crafty fucker does so well is divert attention from the clever words in the advert - Findus never claim to not use stale cod in their meals, they just say it is frozen (not when, which is the issue). They say they use fresh salmon in their dishes, but they never mention that the colourant is only used sometimes and that by flying pacific salmon across the world, your nice steaks have not only contributed to over--fishing but the air freight emissions have blasted another chunk out of the ozone layer!
I remember a time when it was considered the height of political incorrectness to accuse a woman of being fat and to do such was to be enforcing a gender stereotype onto them. Nowadays, being fat is the last taboo. Unlike being black or gay or disabled it is something that you change and has a palpable cost to society - similarly, being too thin.
But what about other things with palpable costs to society? What about tobacco? What about alcohol (and I mean ALL alcohol, including Sherry!)? What about extreme sports? Hell, what about all sport? What about outward bounds exploits that force brave men and women to risk their lives because you were not competent enough to complete what you set out to do? What about David Walliams risking his life swimming the Channel?
All of these things, in theory, could cause the NHS to spend money on things that are avoidable by the performers....they should ALL be banned. We should live in a society where our every action has to be judged to minimalise risk of injury or illness lest we drain our scant resources. No? Then why pick on fat and thin people?
Why pick on William Guntrip for showing a little initiative to buck the system and stand up for the kids who want to eat sweets like their parents did in their school days. What Guntrip does at that age is frowned upon - trust me, in a few years time it will be called an Enterprise Unit at University and will get the lad a great degree. The entire thing is riddled with... hypocrisy.
The Two Johns: Reid and Prescott
We hate politicians. Whatever colour of rosette lies on their shirt we hate them. Why? Because they are the fractured gods of modern society. Flawed deities placed above us all, yet easily accessible. Trapped between the truth and the media, the modern politician is typified by the question-dodging cabinet minister being pursued by Jeremy Paxman to show one chink of vulnerability, yet knowing that one chink will be torn open to reveal a human and thus end their careers in the gods.
Except for Reid and Prescott.
Reid is termed as Blairs Enforcer - why? Because he tells a modicum of the truth. Reid's admission that his department was a shambles and needed twatting into shame from top to bottom was an amazing piece of politics. His unveiled threats to be sacking a number of high ranking civil servants was welcomed. His suggestion that we, the public, should look after our own neighbourhoods a little instead of waiting for someone to do it for us was too much for everyone involved.
I mean, God help us if we cannot look after ourselves! If we cannot forge communities and relationships with other human beings without the way it is done being prescribed in an Act fo Parliament. To suggest this was, apparently, condoning vigilantes. No, it was condemning people who sit, do nothing and whine that no-one helps them. The paladin against all evil, the Bobby on the Beat, does not police on his own - the community creates an atmosphere where wrong-doings are seen as unacceptable. And yes, that means that you sometimes might have to cross paths with a young kid who is doing something wrong - but talk to them, suggest an alternative action. Hell, have a laugh with them about it - it works you know?!
Alternatively, you might consider toning down your expectations of young people. In a society where gatherings of more than two kids seems to signify a riot in the making and the sight of a ball being kicked is the equivalent of the drawing of swords on a battlefield, it gives them little option but to be seen as toerags.
Of course, these are the kids that are out of the house, searching for somewhere to play or hang-out in our prescribed suburban jungle. Not like the fat ones, who are indoors playing on their computers. Naturally the fat ones should be outside (so they can be chased and told to go indoors) and the thinner ones should be indoors (where they can be accused of being sedintary and told to get out and play)
And finally John Prescott. My god, what exactly has this man done to deserve this level of abuse? I'll tell you what he has done.... he's *shock* had an affair. Now, with the majority of marriages ending in divorce I'm going to bet that a fair few of the people who are lambasting him have ducked onto the other side during their partnerships.
But lets be fair, theres more than that! He did it on government property! He broke rules!
Lets be honest - a fat man in his late 50s with a face like a sack of spanners and the sex appeal of a pound of tripe managed, for sometime, to get his leg over with a younger, attractive woman....at the office. He didn't show her civil defence secrets, he didn't turn up to meet the survivors of a bomb attack smelling of vadge - he just got some sex.
In some circles, the man would be hailed as a hero!
But no, because then he was seen playing crochet with his staff. OH THE FUCKING NOES! I don't know what was worse - that he was the defacto 'PM in da House' at the time and should clearly have been bombing someone - or that the game he played was not Bar Billiards or Darts like a true Northern lad.
And now he spent a weekend at the ranch of a man he knew but whose business dealings had nothing to do with his department.
So, to sum it up, comedy fat guy gets shag, bunks off work early once and has weekend at ranch.
I'd hate to see what would have happened to him if he had oh, collapsed the economy, engineered an illegal war and occupation of another sovereign state, manipulated an election or ten, had dozens of people held without trial for being foriegn. You know, THE REAL PROBLEMS CAUSED BY GOVERNMENTS!!!
And don't get me started on Sepp Blatter. Thats another entire column!