Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Junk Food Ban in London School: Sensible or Stalinist

There's been a growing push in the UK for healthy school dinners (lunches), publicly endorsed by celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver. Growing obesity, in children particularly, has sparked this response for healthier eating agendas in schools.

One East London school committed to this agenda has taken things a step further; junk food is being confiscated by teachers in an attempt to encourage healthy eating. See

What are the no no's? Candy, chocolate, soda and other carbonated drinks and full-fat crisps (ie potato chips etc). Persistent offenders risk having their food confiscated.

I'm an advocate of healthy eating. If I had children, I would welcome healthier food in schools and would pack balanced, healthy lunches. But doesn't it seem a little nuts that parents are "not allowed" to send their kids off to school with a jaffa cake, or even a small snack sized kit-kat?

At the same time, why oppose a rule that has the children's health at heart. After cries for healthier culinary offers, is it hypocritical to complain about a school that is proactively enforcing this standard for all students? Maybe this step will encourage parents to instill healthier eating habits in the home.

But does the school have a right to tell parents what to feed their children? There are many other unhealthy food options that children could be bringing to school (pork pies, sausage rolls, hot cross buns etc.) Is this a slippery slope with future bans on the way?

I'm not sure where I stand on this one. It seems a step too far for me but I believe in its principle. Maybe I'm rebelling against the stifling of parental autonomy and sometimes overly regulatory culture of today?

Thoughts anyone?

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Sunday Blues

How wonderful. It's 4:30pm on a Sunday afternoon and it's actually light outside. We change our clocks in a couple of weeks, at which point we'll prolong the "day"light another couple of hours. Whenever we get to this point every year I can't help asking myself how I made it through the cold, dark winter. Roll on endorphins!

Why then, do I feel that small nagging feeling of irritation....sadness.....regret? I had a great weekend visiting the Affordable Art Fair ( and at a friend's 30th birthday karaoke party. I even sang 'Dancing Queen' by Abba, which might have sounded like a cat dying to others, but was really fun for me. And today is a beautiful, chilled out day. So what's the rub?

I think it's just the classic Sunday Blues at play. Those of you who work Monday - Friday must know what I'm talking about. Thursday is the new Friday and comes with a high that peaks on Saturday night. Sunday is good until about 4pm, and then that annoying 'feeling' creeps in. Don't get me wrong, I like my job and I like going into work. But I still can't help wanting the weekend to draw on for longer before I'm back on the train and then on my 20 minute walk into the office. Maybe it's the prospect of my Monday morning commute that gets me down?

City commuting is an art in itself. Everyone walks really fast and is on autopilot. Should a tourist or any person enjoying a leisurely stroll get in your way during the hours of 7:30-9:30am, they will be met with a shove, a dirty glare, a petulant sigh, a crash from behind or all of the above. Commuters don't tolerate laymen gladly. Sometimes they don't even see those they plow down in their path.

Last Monday, my commute involved: standing on the train to London with my face at armpit height to a man who obviously sprinted to catch the train; having a woman in a long red coat push across me as I was about to exit through the ticket barriers, only to have her tampon fly out of her pocket as she reached for her train pass (just desserts for pushing across multiple people - she didn't stop for the tampon but we all saw it sail across the crowd); almost being run down by a cyclist charging along outside of the designated cycle lane; steering clear of a woman swaying unsteadily and then tripping up stairs in stupidly high heels that she should have just changed into in the office. Maybe that's what gets me down?

I can only dream of what pleasures tomorrow morning will bring.