Monday, 29 April 2019

Fat cats! Schools. Health.

Here’s an interesting fact that I gleaned from the newspapers today:

“When Eton College and Winchester College were first established 600 years ago, it was written into their charters that all pupils would be poor scholars taken from the community. But they were hijacked by the wealthy, who used them to school their own children and in so doing their charitable purpose was corrupted to accentuate the advantage of already privileged children.”

Well, I suppose that was to be expected. And as Leonard Cohen might have said, “the rich have got their channels in the schoolrooms of the poor”.

Is this why so many private schools can claim charitable status and therefore not pay various taxes? Interesting!

Add to that the argument that parents who pay for their children’s education are saving the taxpayers huge amounts of money as we (the taxpayers) do not have to pay for those children’s state education. Or the one that says that parents who pay for their children’s education are effectively being taxed twice. As if they were forced to do so!

Nice try by the rich guys!

Here’s a statistic: a child at a secondary private school has up to five times more money spent on their education than one at a state school.

There you go!

Abolishing private schools would not rid us of privilege and inequality - parents would still pay for extra private tuition - but it might lead to more pressure to improve the state school system.

Obesity is in the news again as well. One in four of us in the UK is overweight, they tell us. I think I could have told them that just by walking around Manchester.

On a recent TV programme I saw them do what they called the “string test”. They measured people’s height with a piece of string, cut the string in half and checked to see if the half length would go round their waist. If your waist measures more than half your height, then you are officially obese. Now I know a whole lot of people who consider themselves a little overweight but definitely not obese - oh, no! Heaven forbid! - who would fail that string test.

The comedian Sofie Hagen says she wants to “reclaim the word fat.” She says, “I know not everyone likes it. I used to say ‘overweight’. But fat is a neutral word. If you look it up, it doesn’t say good or bad. I want to remove the negative associations, that’s why I put it in the title.”

The title referred to is her book, Happy Fat: Taking Up Space in a World That Wants to Shrink You, which documents her own experiences as a fat child and adult, from crushing weight-loss attempts that were always “95-98% likely to fail”, to dating men who were looking to “settle for a fat girl”. She writes about the problems of flying while fat (do you book two seats or risk not being able to fly at all?); and the “hell” that is summer, with warmer weather bringing chafing, sweat and the increased scrutiny that leaves fat people feeling forced to stay indoors.

Hmmm! It’s all very well reclaiming the word but the problem still remains. And yes, fat can still be beautiful but that doesn’t stop it being a health problem.

Mind you, I have probably been contributing to the problem, having spent the last few days making birthday cakes (we have a lot of April birthdays to celebrate), decorating them with butter icing and chocolate eggs, feeding them to members of the family and inevitably consuming them myself!

Time to get everyone exercising again!

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