A couple of days ago I wrote a poorly researched blog entry which covered, broadly, what the political leaders or their parties had to say on the subject of obesity.
After I wrote it I realised that, in my wishy washy way, I hadn't really made any comment on what I thought of all this. I didn't want to upset anybody who might read this blog. In the same way that I never mention God, and try not to swear, I choose not to make my position on political matters clear. People who know me know where I actually stand on all these matters, and people who don't know me... well, I'm not sure anybody is reading this and I should really not care too much if my opinions aren't the same as everybody else's. Apparently that is how the world works.
The other thing that holds me back from actually stating an opinion is that I worry about not having actual facts at my fingertips, that I will say something wildly stupid. I don't think about things as much as some people I know and so a lot of my opinions are semi-formed, nebulous things which, under scrutiny, will turn out to be built on foundations of jelly.
But today, because I am a bit lazy and I can just cut and paste this from a comment I wrote on Facebook, here is what I thought of what the leaders have to say. And I think their opinions on fatness are reflective of what they think about a lot of things, about the balance between personal responsibility and the responsibility of the state, and about which direction they point their fingers of blame when they are trying to scare us into voting for them (that would be either down at the powerless who are portrayed as an amorphous mass of slavering scroungers/immigrants/benefits cheats or up at the powerful who are portrayed as an amorphous mass of slavering bankers/ fat cats/ tax dodging cheats) And the question is...who can do more harm to society the powerless or powerful? But who could do the most good to society - the powerless or the powerful. And who do we want to give more power to?
Anyway, this was my Facebook comment (I may be lazy, but look up there, I too the time to draw a picture of me in some jelly using the lovely Coloursoft pencils Denise gave me as an Easter present)
"The general tenor of the comments of the political leaders on obesity is that some parties see obesity as an issue which is characterised by scroungers on benefits who can't control their appetites even when it means that the NHS has to fund their extravagant eating and that bloody Europe will make us treat them as being disabled, or it is an issue which affects a lot of people who would benefit from some initiatives to help tackle obesity in the general population. The first group will fight for the right of big businesses to sell as much crappy food and drink and fags to us as possible whilst cutting the margins of food producers as much as possible. The second group will maybe think that higher taxes on some things are a price we must pay to discourage the buying of crappy food, of paying for sports facilities for public use, of helping those people (and there aren't really that many) who have serious health problems related to their weight. I'm guessing that most of the obese in this country are, as I am, in paid employment. Luckily I'm no longer morbidly obese. Now I'm just an overweight burden on society."
And that is all my semi-formed opnions have to say...for now.
I realise that with some of the stories that I've told I may have given the impression that being overweight is just a jolly rollercoaster of a ride. A fun-packed odyssey of eating, eating, eating. It is hard not to be jolly when you are fat because that is the role that society crowbars you into. That or the self-loathing fatty, miserable about how fat they are, sitting at home wishing they were thinner, prettier/handsomer, with a more thriving social life, if only being fat didn't get in the way.
Astonishingly, we fatties can have all sorts of different personalities, just like people who are of an ideal (according to BMI figures) weight. Hard to believe, I know. These days it is even possible for fat people to find careers other than being a jolly butcher. Yes, now we can be fat cat bankers. Otherwise career choices are pretty limited.
So, while it may all seem a parade of jollity, there are actually moments when being fat can make you really ill! Who would have believed it?
And also moments when being fat can make you feel like you are really ill, but you aren't really. And these can be scary moments, not just for you but also for your loved ones.
In 2006, I'd been living in Kent for a couple of years. Everything was good, except that occasionally it felt a bit like I'd swallowed a grapefruit. It was a horrible feeling and no matter how much I tried to actually swallow the non-existent grapefruit, it never went away. I'd be sitting at work, gulping away, trying to shift that bloody grapefruit feeling and then, having indulged in a good quarter hour of aerophagia (that's swallowing air, fact fans) it would have to be released. Luckily this was not in one massive, disgusting belch but, unluckily, in a series of uncomfortable mini-belches. I am always a pleasure to be around. Why not spend some time in my company?
It became apparent that I was getting recurrent attacks of heartburn - reflux of gastric acid into my oesophagus. It was horrible and painful. Sometimes it kept me awake at night. It was a result of eating or drinking too much and then sitting in a hunched up position at a computer. Or more basically it was because I was fat and persisted in eating too much.
On one particularly fabulous day in 2005. Denise and I decided to go to the pictures. I know it was 2005 because that, according to IMDB is the year that 'Kinky Boots' was on general release.
If you aren't familar with the film, it is a light-hearted comedy drama about a struggling British shoe factory whose strait-laced owner teams up with a drag queen to save the business by making man-sized ladies shoes. it stars Oscar nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor (from 12 Years a Slave). Critics acclaimed it as 'a formulaic Britcom'. I guess that means they loved it!
On the way to the cinema, we stopped for chips. We sat by the river and ate them. It was a lovely day!
And then I bent down to tie my shoe laces...
Ooops, something doesn't feel quite right...
Bloody heart burn feeling again. Right in the middle of my chest. Really bloody painful.
Denise asked if I was ok. I was sure it would pass, so we went over to the cinema on the other side of the river.
Once we'd bought the tickets, I had to sit down. Denise says I looked grey. I was sweating profusely. I felt really terrible. I don't think 'really terrible' quite cuts the mustard here, but I'm saving the sorts of words that convey how bad something can feel for later.
Denise was very worried about me. But I didn't want to spoil the film for her.
We should just go in, I was sure I'd feel better in a bit. I was sure that if I just sat down and watched the film (hunched up in a cramped cinema seat - most cinema seats are a bit cramped for us fatties) that I would forget about the horrible burning sensation.
But I was still sweating, but cold and clammy. Still in pain.
I really didn't want to spoil the film for Denise.
But honestly, for f***'s sake (I don't think any other word does this justice) how stupid am I? How much is she going to enjoy a light-hearted comedy when she's worried that I'm having a heart attack next to her?
I often feel like I am the biggest, dumbest idiot the world has ever known. I'm not always alone in this feeling. I genuinely didn't think it was anything other than really bad heart burn, but how much use is genuinely thinking when you don't know? And how much reassurance is that to somebody else.
I am a silly idiot.
I wasn't having a heart attack. The horrible feelings passed. And I think I quite enjoyed the film.
But I'm not really sure that Denise did.
For which I am sorry, and I love you xxxx
Hi, I'm Andy, serial weight gainer. My year of dieting is over! But you can still give money to Shelter or the PDSA!