Monday 1 February 2016

Wartime Giants

When I was a small child in the early to mid-1970s we Puddlecotes used to spend alternate Sunday afternoons at my Nan and Grandad's council maisonette in south London.

After eating a slap up roast beef dinner complete with mushy cauliflower, butter beans, and a Yorkshire pudding cooked in a flan dish and weighing the equivalent of a small dog due to the fat that went into it (but boy was it gorgeous), we'd sit around watching The Big Match on ITV while Grandad alternated between telling us the score before each featured game and telling me precisely which dominoes I had in my hand. He was a lathe operator by trade but a truly gifted mathematician who ran the shop floor's complicated pools syndicate and was capable of working out the returns from an each way yankee in his head. 

Later he'd sit me on his knee, spark up a Players' No 6, and regale me with tales from the war when he was in the Home Guard, his particular forte back then being to make sure pubs observed the blackout efficiently. Of course, this involved visits while they were closed between 2:30pm and 5:30pm, but the Landlord was usually kind enough to give him a pint or two while he was waiting for opening time. 

However, clever as he was, one thing always baffled him. I remember his words clearly.
"We had rations in the war years sunshine, and for a long time after too. A couple of rashers of bacon, a chunk of chocolate each for the week and a few potatoes, yet there were fat kids fackin' everywhere! Big lumbering beasts they were and no mistake, all of 'em, and stupid too, could barely scratch their own 'arrises they were so fackin' daft. Sometimes I'd go down that alley to get to the Clockhouse (a pub, funny enough, pronounced Clock'aaase) and if they were playing Pitch and Toss I'd need to be Edmund bloody Hillary to climb over the bleeders! We were bloody starving all the fackin' time but there were huge fackin' sprogs up Lavender Hill ... and some of them so big they were down the other side of it as well."
Then, with an affectionate tousling of my hair and a post-dinner gravy belch, he'd muse. 
"I could never understand that, sonny, and I never fackin' will."
It's been a puzzle I've wrestled with ever since those distant dull yellow and brown faded days. But thanks to the marvels at 'Public Health' Industry junk science HQ, it's a puzzle that has finally been solved
CHILDREN whose parents smoke are more likely to be fat - and to lag behind in their school work, suggests new research. 
The study showed that being exposed to second-hand smoke can make children pile on the pounds and slow their mental development.
But of course! The world and his wife - and probably the family budgie too - smoked back then, and in every possible location. Even Woolworths was bathed in a fog of smoke throughout the day so no wonder the kids were all massive!

Oh hold on, isn't there supposed to be an obesity crisis? Now. In 2016. When just about no-one smokes and secondhand smoke has been banned everywhere including outdoors? And come to think about it, I just remembered more accurately. Grandad didn't say anything about huge kids, in fact he spent more time telling me about how you could play their ribs like a xylophone. 

Yes, the 'research' cited by the Express is utter utter bollocks, isn't it?

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