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Obesity Epidemic?

One of the things in the press that annoys me no end is the idea that Britain is in the rip of an “obesity epidemic”. now the first thing to say is obesity is not communicable so the word “epidemic” is inappropriate anyway but what really annoys me is that over the last few years this idea has become so entrenched as a received an unquestioned truth. Whole swathes of Finnish forest have been been turned into articles on the subject and how best to tackle it without ever once questioning whether the phenomenon is real or not. In that spirit I shall now put in my tuppence purely anecdotally.

I live in Cheshire, just south of Manchester. It’s very middle-class around here. I often see the hordes of kids getting off the bus after school finishes. I don’t recall seeing any bloaters. If anything I’d say the kids are more svelte than the ones I was at school with in the ’80s and ’90s. That was in commuter-belt West Gateshead which again was a reasonably middle-class area – not as posh as round here but by no stretch deprived. So middle-class(ish) kids don’t tend to be fat… So what about those who have “Mums that go to Iceland”. Er… no. I’ve lived in some pretty rough inner-city areas (most recently Levenshulme) which probably could be termed “deprived” and to be honest didn’t notice much difference.

Now I tend to not like shopping and my idea of Hell on Earth is somewhere like the Trafford Centre (and purgatory is the M60 just outside it) but things like Christmas shopping are a case of needs must when the Devil vomits in your kettle. Now if anywhere provides a cross-section of the North West populace then surely it’s the Trafford Centre. And no I didn’t see more than the odd sea-monster. So is the North West particularly unusual? I very much doubt it.

Anyway, that’s my take on it – unscientific though it may be – I don’t believe in the obesity “epidemic”.


  1. RAB says:

    Well it’s good to know the independents are still out there Jeremy, uncomfortable seating or not. God forbid they are still using the same Carbon Arc projectors though! What does being a Projectionist entail these days I wonder? Popping a DVD in a slot and pissing off home?

    If you are in Bristol anytime, do drop in. We can pop down the Old E for a pint or two, beat off the drug dealers and have a game of Pool even! :-)

  2. RAB

    I guess they are digital too, tho’ can’t confirm. Where are you in Bristol? I lived in Easton for the best part of 25 years.

    NickM – where are you? I was brought up in Bramhall and Woodford; used to visit regularly till my Mum died a few years back.

  3. RAB says:

    St Andrews Jeremy, just up the hill from Montpelier Station.

  4. NickM says:

    I used to live in Leeds. I then moved back to Gateshead and then on to Manchester and now am domiciled just south of Manchester (down the A6). When in Leeds I lived in Quarry Place, Hyde Park and Meanwood Road. All shit-holes of the first water. Leeds is a cuntery all of it’s own. I shall two stories. The first gaff I had in Leeds was a back-to-back (the building of such was banned in Manchester in 1836) and the couple at the back had “issues” so dear Jesus of Nazareth it was emotional when the pans started flying. Leeds is by a country mile the shitest town in England (and I know Stockport). Well, no, not exactly, nowhere compares to Blackpool. But let me tell you a story about Leeds. It’s 6pm an I exit the math school having done a day’s work. I proceed to the Packhorse Public House where I drink bear with my mates. At 8pm I walk home and feel a little peckish so I buy a pizza which is promptly stolen from me by the Dickensian feral kiddiewinks who live in “Little London”- a God-awful housing estate near Quarry Place. Not that that was a haven. At one point I had to call the fire-brigade because the kids had set fire to the huge collection of crap the land-lord had allowed to accumulate in the side yard (it was a back to back) and apart from anything else one of my housemates had a pal who turned-up who was sectioned the next day – he was fucking mental – cropped hair, white T-shirt and white jeans – the overall look was institutional which was fitting and he smoked 80 quids worth of dope in two days, had a pint of assorted spirits at Leeds Met bar, passed out and was allegedly doing a degree in Philosophy at UEA and another housemate made a (succesfully ducked) attempt to kill m with a stolen pub ashtray. What heinous sin had I committed to have a kilo of glass flung at me with murderous intent (ironically the fragments looked real pretty the next morning)? I had “looked at him funny”. Except that ain’t what it was about. He was doing a MSc in computing at Leeds Met on the basis of a Desmond from East London Poly in Sociology. And he had an exam and he asked me to help him with the logic. Well, bugger me! Of course I can! I didn’t say this but I did 20 credits of discrete maths at Nottingham so logic is something I know. So I try and help and he develops a chip on his shoulder and attempts to twat me. Now maybe you’re thinking Nick was heavy-handed here. No I wasn’t. He didn’t get it and just lashed out. And he did that because he quite simply couldn’t take the fact Leeds Met had sold him a pup. He pissed off upstairs to his room while I was helping him with mathematical logic. It was only later he came back downstairs and attempted to put me out of the game permanently with a smoking recepticle. He then made a pathetic attempt at chinning me and then buggered off upstairs having utterly failed. I was left without a cut or a bruise though I was left wondering at the pathetic antics. And no. I wasn’t patronising. Not at all. If anything I was curious and it was Dave who took a wobbly because he couldn’t hack it and knew he’d given up a job as a butcher’s apprentice to study a half-assed course for half-wits. I am basing thaat only on the logic but that was GCSE stuff and he wigged out on it.

    So no. I don’t like Leeds.

    Except. I met a student of Russian there and dear reader, I married her. So that is extremely good but dear Gods it is a triple Middlesborough. It’s just shit from arsehole to breakfast time. I can tell more if you want.

  5. Thornavis says:

    Nick, you were drinking bear ? Bloody hell you northerners are tough. Great story and do please keep them coming, btw that ‘Little London’ thing, I wonder if that’s a general olde worlde term for no-go areas ? We had one in my home town on the south coast, a place with an undeserved reputation for being boring, at least in the past. It was a tiny area but the police never went near it, covered in a shit sixties mall and multi-storey car park now.

  6. Rab – many happy hours spend in the Old E in days of yore!


    Stockport has two fine things going for it – the market, and best of all, Robbies Brewery, for whom I had the privilege of working for in the holidays for a few years after the age of 16. I have a very soft spot for Stockport, mind you, am old enough to recall riding on the trams their with my Gran. Leeds – well, I have only ever been there twice, and once was Elland Road in the 60s, in with the home fans as we arrived late. Scary. Very scary.

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