Archive for December, 2006

Too fat to function?

They’re on about the ‘obesity epidemic’ again on the television news and as usual they’re showing clips of film they’ve shot in the streets to illustrate the problem. I know the faces of these anonymous people are not shown but surely those individuals will recognise themselves if they watch that news bulletin. Can you imagine how you’d feel if you saw your body being broadcast to the nation as an example of an obese person – a social problem? It would be bad enough if you already believed you were carrying a bit too much flab – but what if you were happily unaware that you had such a ‘problem’. It could be argued that such exposure could lead to a positive outcome — in that the overweight person might be spurred-on to do something about their dodgy diet — but I think that it really is no more than an invasion of privacy.

I’m beginning to wonder if the so-called ‘obesity epidemic’ is somewhat of an exaggeration. Clearly, if a person is seriously obese – to the extent that it interferes with their ability to function in everyday life – then it is something that would cause concern. But most the ‘victims’ I’ve seen in television reports don’t, I believe, fall into the morbidly obese category.

It’s my personal preference to attempt to keep my weigh down to a reasonable level for my own particular body shape – mainly because I think clothes look better on me if I’m not carrying excess weight. I have my own ideas on what I should weight to look and feel good in the kind of fashions I like to wear and I admit that I’m far from happy when sporting any extra blubber. It may be that I’ve just absorbed societal pressures related to idealised notions of the female form but – for what ever reason – I think I’m always going to be more at ease when I’m at my what I consider to be my ‘fighting weight’. But just because I believe I look and feel better when I’m within my own defined ideal weight does not mean I think this should be the same for other people. I’m sure that a great many individuals who are over the ‘recommended guidelines’ are as fit, or even fitter, than their skinny counterparts – and I know from my own eyes that many so-called overweight people look absolutely gorgeous.

What I’m arguing here is that the whole weight issue should always come down to personal preference and not government dictate. People – and especially women – come under enough pressure already without the Health Police and an alarmist media piling on the guilt. And I’m not entirely sure that there is sound epidemiological evidence to back up the ‘epidemic’ claims or whether being clinically overweight is such a major health burden. One things for sure — if we’re ever hit with a real epidemic, it won’t be those who carry some extra weight who succumb in the greater number.

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“The balm of hurt minds…”

I should have called this blog something like Can’t Sleep:Won’t sleep – because I’ve got insomnia again. Total hours sleep last = zero. I just can’t seem to switch my mind off at night – and don’t even suggest a relaxation CD because I’ve tried that and I just become impatient and fast-forward them. In part, I think it’s because I resent sleep because it seems such a waste of time – I wonder if the need for sleep will be eliminated at some point in the future. It’s bound to happen and, if I’m still around then, it’s guaranteed I’ll change my tune. Needing or wanting to sleep may come to be seen as a weakness or self-indulgence and people will be boastful about how they never give in to it. If this sleepless world ever comes about I wouldn’t be too surprised if I suddenly developed an untreatable form of narcolepsy and became a sleep-sodden social pariah.

I’ve acquired some Midnight Secret (the ’Eight Hour’s Sleep in a Bottle’ wonder cream) so I don’t look too rough when I’m out and about but I think at some point – probably after all the no-sleep thing comes about – people won’t have to bother about how they look, because the wearing of masks will be commonplace. Not pervy rubber masks of fancy-dress ones, but realistic faces which will change our entire appearance. We could have cupboards full of them to suit our particular mood. Young faces will be big of course, and celebrity ones – alive or dead. The streets could be full of Elvis (what is the plural of Elvis, by the way?) or John Lennons but more likely to be hootching with whatever the current equivalent of Angelina Jolie or Scarlett Johansson et al are at that point in time.

Body suits are only a matter of time too. It wouldn’t even matter if you were fat because everything would be compressed into whatever shape you desired, male of female. We’d have to wear a little badge with a special code on it, so our friends would know it was us if we happened on them in the street. Of course, the street may not be on this planet, as Steven Hawkins is predicting that we will have to colonise other planets in the not too distant future, because we are outgrowing this one (or destroying it, I’m not quite sure). Come to think of it – I don’t think many of us will be too interested in fake faces if we have the Final Frontier to keep us occupied.

What do you think? Oops, I think I’ve bored everyone to sleep. All right for some…

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Be afraid

My night-terrors returned last night – headless Egyptian Mummies this time – so, too scared to risk any attempt at sleep again, I found myself rattling about the house in the early hours of the morning. This had to be the night when everyone else in the place had decided to have a night on the town. A bit of mindless television was required to settle my nerves and that’s when QVC comes into its own. Not only is it safe and free from any spooky connotations but the sympathy I feel for the presenters drowns out any thought of my own particular nightmares.

They must have a councillor on permanent standby on those programmes: ‘repeat after me — you have sacrificed your soul and your dignity to pay your mortgage’.  I know they’re probably laughing all the way to the bank but, seriously — is it worth it? Last night they were forced to attempt enthusiasm over some sticker machine for kids and at one point two male presenters were reduced to making a couple of soft toys go ‘kiss-kiss’ with each other so they (the toys) would light up or make some sort of noise. I swear I saw one of the presenters roll his eyes when he thought he was off-camera.

But all the cringe-worthy fake enthusiasm came to an end when the exercise equipment section came on — because those presenters were genuine in their belief of the beneficial effects of the Tony Little Gazelle Cross Trainer.  I don’t even know how I’ve managed to live without one of those for all these years. You’re meant to hold on to the handlebars whilst you plough back and forth with your legs but I’m sure it could be done one-handed — so you could  manage to scoff practically anything you want whilst still burning off the fat. I think they said that it burns off about 1000 calories an hour, so you could probably eat an entire fish supper whilst watching both Emmerdale and Coronation Street and step off the machine sans any extra blubber.

The night terrors are probably my mother’s fault, as most things are (you can’t say I learnt nothing from that Foundation Psychology course). One day, when I was about seven, she came home and announced she’d bought a lovely caravan. She’d bought it sight unseen but knew it was lovely because the seller had informed her that was the case. The fact that it only cost her about £40 did not ring any warning bells. It was parked somewhere in a remote part of the Scottish countryside and it was decided that it would be an ideal place for the whole family to spend our summer holidays. It turned out, of course, that it was the size of a portaloo and was not too dissimilar to the caravan featured in the best ever episode of Father Ted*.  I could write a novel about our time in that caravan but I’ll focus on the possible influence it may have had on bringing on my night terrors.


The first point is that we soon found out that someone had died a terrible death only yards from where the caravan was parked. Second point is that on our second day there we found a Strange Doll under the caravan – it had been fashioned out of some foam-like black material and had weird pointy ears. When my mother saw the doll she screeched “Get rid of it – its evil!” and tossed it as far as she could into an adjoining field. But it made a mysterious re-appearance the next again day and my father had to take it away to I know not where. Third Point: one night — when my parents were visiting some friends they’d make in a little cottage nearby — my siblings and I were squeezed into our little beds (which also doubled-up as tables). It was too warm for sleep and the caravan door was prised open to let in some air. Suddenly, something appeared in the doorway. It stood on its hind legs, with its ‘arms’ stretched out towards the roof, and issued a blood-curdling moan. It was ‘animal–like’ but like no animal we’d ever seen before.


Don’t give me all that guff about it being the countryside and stray foxes etc – this thing filled the doorway and was not furry, but smooth-skinned.  We screamed so loud and so long that everyone within a twelve-mile radius (about six people) rushed to our aid. The ‘thing’ had gone by then and they dismissed our sighting as kiddie high-spirits (although one of the men thought enough of our ‘story’ to prowl around with his shotgun for a few days – but he was prone to that anyway…).


*My mother must have believed our sighting of the ‘creature’ because she decided some divine intervention was needed and – in a strange twist of fate – we ended up with two priests squeezed in with us in our ‘Father Ted’ caravan that summer. The priests must have fancied a day in the country, as they travelled up from Glasgow to bless our little caravan. My mother was mortified after they left because she realised we’d fed them sausages (on a Friday) and my father had said the eff word in front of them. But there were no more ‘sightings’ after that.

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