So it would appear that our hooky-playing, erstwhile low-profile representative in Parliament, Anna Soubry, has revealed to the national Press exactly what it is she does when in sniffing distance of her electorate: judge us. By our appearance. She can, and indeed does, determine our probable background and class by a mere gander in our general direction, or more accurately, at our silhouette.
Our size, says Soubry, is usually a pretty good indicator of our class. Gone are the days when the “runty” look embodied poverty, says Soubry, as now it’s the fatties wot do it.
She cites anecdotal evidence for this, as is her wont — people she witnessed in Nottingham (not her constituency, as it happens, but she’s probably just projecting) while she walked ‘about’.
I imagine her observances go something along the lines of:
[observes person approaching]
Are they an oblate-spheroid? Yes! ‘probably poor — turn and walk fast. Don’t run; no need — they’re [mouths letters silently to self] F.A.T!
Are they well-rounded and merely lacking definition? Yes! ‘probably struggling to make ends meet, but at least gainfully employed — fake interest!
Are they thin-as-a-rake? Yes! Upper class and well-to–do; probably a merchant banker — say hello!
Are they just plain runty? ‘probably went to school with me — avoid eye contact at all cost!
Soubry’s ostensible concern in her observations belies her preoccupation with blame. After all, we all know Eric Pickles isn’t short of a bob or two, and he’s as fat as they come; Gideon Osbourne has put on a tidy sum around his chops since coming into power — and he’s always been rolling in it. So how genuinely helpful, or meaningful, is it for her to assert that fat people are probably poor? Or vice versa?
If she spent as much time with her constituents, responding to their actual concerns and questions as she presumably spends walking about speculating on why people around her are the way they are, she would have a better track record as Broxtowe’s MP. She’s famous for praising those who take the time to come to see her in person at her constituency office. No wonder. She’s hardly ever there, and when she is once she’s spoken to you there’s no follow-up action required of her. Write, email or call and it’s often a different matter… maybe it’s because she can’t get a handle on you from your handwriting; fat people write the same way skinny folk do, after all…
Soubry has joined the ranks of Tories pining for the golden age of their youth — the It Was Better In My Day crew. Chaired by Gove, with his Educational policies founded purely in his obsession with his own jolly school days of reciting Beowulf verbatim from memory and Latin before lunch but after a whipping, and Hunt as Deputy, who harks back to a time when there was no NHS and the poor and destitute died of illness and botched backstreet abortions like they bally well should, they bemoan the good ol’ days. For Soubry, this was when the poor were recognisable by their body shape, but not because they were eating bad stuff, but because they were eating not much at all. Apparently, Not Much, But Home Cooked Not Much is better than a MacDonald’s. As though ‘thin and poor’ were preferable to ‘fat and poor’ because at least then you appear healthy, and are not ugly in her eyes.
If saying the thoughts that were in her head about fatties wasn’t bad enough, she’s also appointed herself taskmaster of telling you what to eat, how to eat it and where to eat it.
I hope you’re not reading this while eating your lunch at your desk, because you may spit it out when I tell you that, according to Soubry, that’s “disgusting”. You weirdo.
I eat at my desk – not every day, but a lot of days. Sometimes it’s because I know an hour isn’t long enough to get into town and find somewhere sheltered and warm (if its cold) or quiet and warm (if its sunny) to eat, and I don’t eat in restaurants alone at lunch, and not with others unless it’s a birthday, leaving do or Christmas – because I’m not a) rich, b) a man c) a fat MP. Besides, it’s my hour – I can spend it how I please. Quite who she thinks will heed her words is beyond me. Who is expected to cook homemade dinners every night of the week? Did she?
Rather than banning the word ‘fat’ in her household so as to not cause her daughters to obsess about weight, I would urge Soubry to think before she speaks — because it strikes me that being preoccupied with your weight is far-and-away less nasty than publicly prejudging others for theirs.
*Big props to Nottingham Post’s Master of Chuckle Erik Peterson for that one.