Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Dumbing Down

I have a bus pass (by reason of my age). So I have started using the bus instead of my car. The savings I make by leaving the car at home are essential, as I have joined the army of those euphemistically referred to as being on ‘limited income’, or, sometimes, ‘fixed income’; or even, not to put too fine a point on it, ‘low income’. That last description could be considered by some to be tactless, or even politically incorrect – but that’s because it is the most accurate. To be described as ‘poor’ is of course unacceptable!

It’s all relative of course – the fact that I have a car to leave at home puts me a cut above many in this country, and makes me unbelievably rich compared to millions in the world.

In this country, particularly in the media, we seem to have arrived at a point where we decline to face certain truths (in case we offend) while at the same time over-clarifying other truths to the point of imbecility.

It is both fascinating and irritating to listen to certain broadcast interviewers, mostly those with enlarged egos, who constantly interrupt their interviewees to clarify that which needs no clarification for the benefit of an audience who (they assume) have not been keeping up with events for at least a year! I get particularly frustrated when listening to ‘Any Questions’ chaired by (or should I say ‘hosted’ by) Jonathon Dimbleby, son of a broadcasting genius, friend of the heir to the British throne, and patroniser par excellence. The amount of air time he spends interrupting the panel to over-elaborate, or over explain, for the sake of listeners who may have no idea what the context of the question is, must be a significant percentage of available air time – and yet his listening audience are likely to be well informed, or they wouldn’t be listening in the first place!

Another truth which could do with being addressed with greater clarity and fewer euphemisms is the fact that many of us are too fat! Yes, I dared to use the F word...

There is so much talk of ‘clinical obesity’, Body Mass Index and the rest that most of us who are too fat (yes, that includes me!) are not made to face up to the truth – I like my food and I like my wine, and physically, I am reluctant to over indulge in exercise.

Back to the bus-ride.

I have noticed that small children on the bus are almost always eating, crisps, or chocolate, or biscuits or some other comforting snack produced by a loving parent in order to quieten the child while the parent concentrates on ‘texting’!

So it follows that a substantial number of teenagers on the same bus have not kicked the habit instigated by their parents, and are chewing on something.

And when the bus slows at the pedestrian traffic lights, to allow a stream of students to cross to or from the Pizza Hut or MacDonalds which have been thoughtfully built near the college, I am tempted so much to leap up and shout, “You are all eating far too much junk and it is going to kill you!!”

Of course, it wouldn’t make any difference – the explanation would be too simple to be taken seriously.

So perhaps I should just go home and concentrate on eating and drinking less, and taking more exercise!

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