Monday 15 June 2015

Lardiness and how to beat it

Obesity apparently costs the UK £47 billion a year. Saving just a proportion of this, say 10% will make a deficit reduction larger than anticipated by the Chancellor in the first year of the new Government.

Why are we fat?

Obviously because we eat too much and of the incorrect mix of carbohydrates, fats, protein and fibre in our diet. Advice about portion control and proper nutrition is the official response to the problem but the odds are stacked against success. Processed, i.e. “bad” foods are cheaper than more healthy ones and there is a link between poverty and obesity.

The second reason is our general lack of activity.

Dr Linda B. White, writing in the Healthy Living website states:

Exercise is not optional. Your life depends on it. According to the good Doctor, the benefits of exercise are many.

These include the maintenance of a healthy body weight because bigger muscles burn up more fuel in the form of calories. Bones thicken and joints become more flexible. The heart, lungs, nervous, digestive and immune systems benefit. Sufferers from Type 2 Diabetes, Arthritis, Depression and Parkinson’s have some of their symptoms alleviated by moderate exercise. There are also claims that exercise enhances your libido and extends life span.

Apathy is the challenge. A draconian measure would be to tax sugar and trans fats as we do tobacco, but there isn’t the political will and the ad spends on Soft drinks laced with sugar and high fructose corn syrup dwarfs anything that public service advertising can mount. And then there are the promoters of fast food like the burger chains, with their salt and fat laced inexpensive tasty products. The leading brand regularly appears in the top ten list of TV advertisers.

But it can be done as Germany did in the 80’s. Then we used to laugh at them as the fattest people in Europe. Fortunately there are signs that the tide is turning. Childhood obesity appears to be falling so a shift in public attitudes will be easier.

A Government Tsar should be appointed to organise the drive. Then we can expand the reach and influence of the relatively small public service health promotional budget by involving all interested parties, including the NHS, the media, gyms, chefs and creative advertising people.

Friday 12 June 2015

Tales from the Carlisle Arms

Alcohol was always a necessary lubricant in the advertising business. Pubs were landmarks and everyone knew where the Mucky Duck was located. Turn left at the Crown and two Chairmen, past the Dog and Duck you will find the Carlisle Arms. Characters spent time, sometimes lots of it and the quality of food was not an inducement. Jeffrey Bernard was often unwell there.

Maurice was a regular. He used to stop off there after work for a few jars before taking a taxi home to Barnet. One evening lasted longer and on the way home, after the taxi careered around a roundabout, Maurice fell off his seat and disappeared from sight. The taxi duly arrived in Barnet and the driver said: "We’re here, Guvnor". When there was no answer and not spotting Maurice, he assumed his passenger had slipped off at some traffic lights, cursed himself for his carelessness and drove back into the West end.
Up pops Maurice, asking; “Are we there mate?”

Alistair decided to drive home late one night despite being well over the limit. Past Baker Street and on the elevated section, he decided that since he knew the road ran straight for a mile, he could afford to shut his eyes. He awoke, on a roundabout and heading for the central reservation, he jerked the wheel around and crashed into the barrier. Below him on the pedestrian underpass an elderly Jamaican woman, on her way to an early cleaning job, stood shaking as she brushed glass off her woolen hat. She said: “I tell you what, someone’s trying to kill me. Third time this has happened this week”.   

And I killed my new car and the only taxi in Central London plying his trade at 3 am. Curiously there were hundreds of witnesses.
Even stranger, they were all taxi drivers.

Thursday 4 June 2015

On liars

The world is full of liars. Politicians lie. Bankers and business-men are economical with the truth and most people tell fibs at least some of the time.

 Liars seek to justify their dishonesty. "It was only a white lie" or "I lied because I didn't want to hurt you".

In fact, the truth is more likely to hurt the liar, because the lie seeks to cover up a lapse of morals, ethics or legality.

Most people lie for self-interest and only when this is threatened. A few people lie almost all of the time, even when there's no personal benefit.

Billy Wilder's film, Witness for the prosecution, contained a court room scene, in which Sir Wilfred, a defence barrister, played by Charles Laughton, is cross examining a hostile witness Mrs Helm and catches her out in a series of lies.

The lady's portrayed brilliantly by Marlene Dietrich is then finished off by Sir Wilfred so:

"And now today you've told us a new story entirely", his tone changing from humorous to serious, "The question is, Frau Helm, were you lying then, are you lying now, or are you not in fact a chronic and habitual LIAR?"

He wins his case, but because the film is based on a short story by Agatha Christie, there is a twist in the tail.

Chronic liars tell the truth when it suits them, when very drunk, frightened or extremely angry.

How can you deal with liars?

If life was simple, you could avoid the proven liar altogether. In a more realistic situation, consider if the liar's statement could be a lie. If it is a lie, then is it a casual purposeless one or a deliberate lie told with purpose.

If you think it is, then ask yourself what could the motive be? Examine the possible alternatives and decide the level of importance each carries and how they affect you.

My Dad gave me a piece of valuable advice: If you must lie, hope you have a good memory.

Walter Scott said it more poetically : "Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive".