Thursday, 24 January 2013

The Very Unnecessarily Obese Schoolchildren

This week some politician or other (I forget; I don't pay that much attention) has come under fire for a comment that implies that deprived families spawn the most obese children. Or words to that effect. I don't think that any child should be clinically obese when what they ought to be doing is swinging from monkey bars and scraping their shins climbing up trees. So, I have sought to come up with a way to ease the strain on the chubby children's patellas.

Jamie Oliver was obviously a source of inspiration, changing the eating habits (eventually) of  many a schoolchild from within the educational system. Pat on the back. But let us go further, and instil in children from a very young age what is good, healthy food and what is not. My idea is actually so simple, I don't know why it hasn't already been done. David Cameron, get ready to add this to your next manifesto: we petition for The Very Hungry Caterpillar to be a mandatory piece of literature on the curriculum.

No, really. The Very Hungry Caterpillar might have an insatiable appetite but he generally eats the right stuff: an apple on Monday; two pears on Tuesday; three plums on Wednesday; four strawberries on Thursday; and five oranges on Friday. (This is actually beginning to sound like a Craig David song. Just without sex.) He goes off the rails a bit on Saturday, but we'll get to that. By the end, then, he turns into a beautiful, sparkling specimen of a butterfly - a great nutritional lesson for kids. I suppose the only way they'll manage to become as colourful as the butterfly is if the juices of various fruits squirt all over their little faces, but that's a given. Even as an adult I can never munch on a plum without getting the juice all over my hands.

The fruit may also want to be tempered with vegetables of some description or what's liable to happen are incidents of a pants-filling nature. Then again, if a child is wolfing down five oranges in one go, I think that constitutes as rather abnormal behaviour.

And the Very Hungry Caterpillar does indulge in a fair few fattening items which aren't really part of a typical caterpillar's diet (for example, one sausage, one lollipop, and one piece of chocolate cake), but there's that wonderful word 'editing'. Just omit the part about the cupcake and ice-cream, and we're away. Bring out a special edition for cutting down on child obesity. Or blame the fact that the Very Hungry Caterpillar felt so awful with his poorly tummy after eating all that food on the rubbishy food he gobbled. Well, he wasn't ill after eating those five oranges, was he?

So that is my plan. Because an added benefit is that a child isn't as statistically likely to be mugged by the school bully for sticks of carrot. Plus, they'll be much more able to run away.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

The Discarded Christmas Tree Project

My delicious homemade truffles
First of all, a belated felicitous New Year to you all (I'm still operating on Spanish time). So, after a festive season that has kept me très busy entertaining, cooking, gobbling truffles, and having the excuse of drinking before midday, it was time to take myself  off up to Scotland to be the knightess in a shining silver threaded coat.

My crazy Catalan friend has decided to brave the icy winds and almost constant drizzle, and will be studying in Edinburgh. I was to help her look for a flat, which was about as useful as a chocolate teapot because I too was about as clueless as she about the city. We carried about four maps between us and at times it was so windy the large map required a headbutt or two in order to be folded. The woman who'd given us the maps was the owner of the B&B where we were staying and she owned a delightful cat called Hugo, calling to mind Paris, compounded by the impressive architecture in Edinburgh.

We could have simply wandered the streets of Edinburgh ourselves, but my friend was in the know: she knows of the free tours in the cities of Europe. Well, technically they are free - a donation is always welcome depending on how much you feel the tour is worth. It's a jolly good idea though and we enjoyed it immensely, after three hours with a knowledgable, amusing, and beardy Australian - I fear he may have been forced to grow the beard to keep his face, unused to such low temperatures, snug. Much history was reeled off, many of the dates now fled from memory, but the imagery of blue naked wildmen keeping back the Romans will not likely be forgotten hurriedly. Nor shall the far too vigorous and enthusiastic descriptions of torture methods for political dissidents, which include nailing an ear with a three-inch nail in the middle of the market place and slivers of bamboo forced underneath the fingernails as possible until the nail popped off.
An expensive private school provided names for the houses in H.P.

There was also the creepy churchyard where many a ghost is said to roam, bodies still with plague buried, and the inspiration for some of the characters in Rowling's Harry Potter stories, most notably Tom Riddle. Woooo, chilling.... 

So, kings dying, beheaded queens, bishops having stools thrown at them, plague, mutilation, ghost stories, and literary phenomena; this sort of information works up an appetite. To luncheon, ho! During which a gauntlet for a truffle-off was hurled down. Time and place of duel yet to be confirmed. I'm sure I'll win.

Without a doubt, however, the merriest time for me was the Discarded Christmas Tree Project. Aim: strike as many different poses with as many discarded Christmas trees as possible. Success rating? I'd give a good 6.5. It's just a shame not many people got to witness the sheer genius and creativity of the activity; there were so many trees around that there were more than enough for the population of Edinburgh. In fact, I'm pretty sure there were more trees than people.
Bizarre tree-thief