Tuesday 11 June 2019

Healthy is not a number.

If you use Social Media at all then it's likely you will be aware of the storm that has blown up around the Daily Telegraph article about Nike's use of a plus size mannequin in their London store. Nike say that their intention is to celebrate the diversity & inclusivity of sport - acknowledging that people of all body sizes exercise and need appropriate clothing for that.

In case you've not seen the article, then below is the first section...

This article is, perhaps surprisingly, written by a woman - one Tanya Gold, according to the byline. Now read that second paragraph again, and ask yourself exactly what level of hatred is needed to make someone use language like that. I'm actually unsure what label is best applied to it - misogynistic? Almost certainly. Judgemental? Hell, yes. Spiteful, vindictive, hateful? All of the above. She humanizes the mannequin from the start, and then proceeds to talk about "her" in such vicious terms that it is almost breathtaking - what sort of person would even contemplate describing another woman (or indeed an entire group of women!) in those terms? For the avoidance of doubt, if you've not seen the picture of the mannequin in question and are now imagining some kind of grotesque caricature of a plus-size lady in plastic form, this is the (copyright Nike I believe) publicity shot that was put out:

Now go back and read the final sentence above again. "Heaves with fat"? Seriously? Gold is not done here though - having thoroughly offended any women of size 12 and above with her first comments, she continues...

Perhaps the first question here is what the "measure" that Gold might be using with her sweeping statement might be. BMI perhaps? That "measure" that has been proved already to be a terrible indicator for health, and that has been ditched by pretty much all forward thinking medics? (It makes most of the England Rugby team obese, for a start, because it makes no allowance for muscle -v- fat - so somebody with a lot of muscle mass and a very low body-fat percentage will still show as "too heavy" according to its very rigid structure.) "She cannot run" well, no Tanya, she's a plastic model, but a woman of that size and shape might very well be able to run....after you with a big stick, quite possibly, following those comments. A hoard of women of ALL shapes and sizes have fired up Twitter with an attack on this statement - triathletes, long distance swimmers, marathon runners and indeed ultra marathon runners too, all saying "Oh yes we bloody well can!" in incensed tones.

Prior to this Gold was most noted for an article whining about people judging her for being a heavy smoker, it seems, however a little dig back through her archives lead me to an interesting Daily Mail (sorry - I'd never normally do this and I'm certainly not linking to it!) item from 2008 in which she says, among other things "Yes, ladies and gentleman, I am fat. You want to know how fat? OK, I am a size 16 and I weigh 14 stone."  and "Here's a thought: what if the only barrier between me and my future happiness is not my tsunami of flesh but your giant prejudice? " Interesting use of the phrase "tsunami of flesh" there - not dissimilar to "heaves with fat" in some ways, it strikes me. She goes on perhaps to shed a little light on where things may have gone wrong "I have been overweight since about the age of ten, so I was bullied at school, naturally. 'You're fat!' the other (mostly female) children would say, 'and we won't play with you.' " Ahhh....OK, now bullying, as is well documented now, can leave mental scars far beyond the school playground, and it is also reckoned that some who were themselves bullied go on to bully others, so are we perhaps a little nearer to getting to the bottom of Miss Gold's vindictive comments in her more recent Telegraph article? 

As someone else said on Twitter, only the lady herself can truly know why she is so angry about this issue, and perhaps even she might not be able to put a finger on what has happened over the past 11 years to take her from hotly defending people who look not unlike that mannequin, to instead trying to undermine and destroy them in truly cruel terms, but is there just a chance that perhaps the person she is really lambasting here is herself? Could it perhaps be that it is she who is unable to run, and possibly struggling with health problems that may (whether truthfully or otherwise) have been linked by others to her perceived "unhealthy" appearance, and that a result she feels so utterly removed from ever being able to wear clothes like those produced by Nike, and modelled by their gloriously confident looking store display, that she has allowed her own resentment to flow out onto the page? Back in 2008 her entire Daily Mail article is littered with clues that even then, she didn't like herself very much - self-deprecating humour presides throughout and you firmly get the impression that she was taking swipes at herself before anyone else could - 11 years on though and she's turned that on others, and particularly those who she fears may be happier with their lot than she is, maybe? If so then she needs to address her own issues, and not take them out on those she resents for their abilities and contentment with their lot.

Ladies - no matter what shape and size you are, remember - Healthy is NOT the number on the label of your knickers. Fit is not whether you fit a societal visual "ideal". It is not for anyone - male or female, larger or smaller, to judge and criticise you, or to make a call that you are "unhealthy" because of the size of clothes you wear. Nobody can tell your state of health simply from looking at you. The Telegraph should be ashamed of itself for giving an article that potentially damaging page-room - and especially so soon after a Mental Health Awareness week which this year focused on Body Image. No subsequent apology can right the wrong that they have done to 50% of the UK population. 


Thursday 6 June 2019

Flying High...

A couple of years ago, for my birthday, MrEH bought me a flight in the same type of vintage aircraft I have flown in before - the DeHavilland Dragon Rapide. I looked into booking it that first summer - only to find there were no available dates that suited me. Then I looked into booking it again last year, only to find that the company running the flights did not, at that stage, have a secure website for taking card payments for bookings....sigh! I suddenly thought about it again a few weeks ago and decided to take another look, and to my delight firstly the website is now secured and secondly there were LOTS of dates to choose from - including to my delight one in just a couple of weeks time, on a Friday where I had nothing in the diary!

Last Friday I travelled to Duxford where I was admitted to the Imperial War Museum free of charge on production of the voucher I received when I made my booking, given a map of the site and dispatched off towards the "Classic Wings" enclosure on the flightline in order to register my arrival, get given my ticket for the flight and hop on the scales - everyone gets weighed so that Classic Wings know how to distribute people through the aircraft - apparently she prefers lighter people at the front, which was wonderful for me as that meant I got given one of the front seats, and being directed to board first meant that I got the one directly behind the pilot's doorway - meaning I could see directly ahead of me throughout as well as off to the side - wonderful! 7 of the 8 seats were occupied in the end - including the one behind me which was taken by the loadmaster from one of the American Douglas Dakota's that had arrived at Duxford ahead of the D Day commemorations which were shortly to be taking place - they weren't going to have time to do any sightseeing so when he'd seen the flight advertised on arrival he thought it would be a great way of seeing London!

Our pilot - Brian - had a quick word with us before popping on his headset and getting ready for engine start - basically explaining that the exact route we took on the way down would depend on how we got routed by ATC for the three busy airspaces we'd be travelling through - Stansted, London City and Heathrow Airports - but that essentially we'd be going roughly through the Lea Valley before reaching central London, over the Olympic Park and then on to the river, before doing some manoeuvering over some of the main sights to make sure everyone stood a good chance of seeing them. Then it was engine start, taxi to the runway and before we knew it we were airborne and turning gently to the south to start our trip. I was looking out for Harlow on the way down needless to say, but the best I spotted was Hoddesdon, not all that far from us, and at that point I switched my attention to the front to see the Lea Valley appearing ahead of me, and Wembley visible way off to the West shortly followed by the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium.  It seemed hardly any time after that before the "Stadium hat-trick" was completed by the Olympic Park appearing, again off the starboard wing - amazing to see the whole park laid out below us like this!

On to the river, then, and a sweep over Greenwich and past the Isle of Dogs and the Millenium Dome - or the O2 as we're now meant to call it of course!  Amazing to see the iconic shape of the "bulge" in the Thames formed by the IoD & the Greenwich Peninsular clearly visible 

Look carefully in the one below and you can see the Cutty Sark (click on the picture and it will enlarge) as well as the Royal Naval College at Greenwich - this was a favourite section when we did the Themes path walk through this area.

Brian wasn't kidding when he said he'd make sure everyone got a good view either - we flew around the Shard several times from all angles getting great views - at times it felt as though we were almost on a level with it! 

These are a mix of pictures from my phone and some taken with the camera that yes, I inevitably had with me too! There are a LOT more photos to go through yet too and I may well do another post at some stage with some more - I've had a quick look at a few and it's fascinating spotting places that I'd not recognised from the air. Apparently we had a quite wide divert around Stansted airspace both ways which meant we got a slightly longer flight than sometimes happens - I think the only person even slightly complaining was the lady in the other front seat who did need to make use of a little white bag at one stage, poor thing! You get a lot of turbulence from an aircraft that size, and combined with the "vintage" smell of fuel that tends to linger, it can make you feel ever so slightly queasy - I found that making sure I fixed my eyes out at a distance if I started feeling even vaguely uneasy did the trick for me, thankfully. 

It was a fantastic experience and one I'd certainly be interested to repeat at some stage - Classic Wings are efficient and friendly and if anyone fancies a similar experience I'd strongly recommend them - there are also other companies doing the same thing on the same aircraft type elsewhere in the country, I believe. For a Londoner, the trip I did would really be hard to beat, however! 


Monday 3 June 2019

Planning and eating!

After another weekend where my feet didn't touch the ground (literally, where Friday is concerned - keep your eyes peeled for a post later in the week with photos from my epic flight in a 1940's biplane over central London!)  I'm reminded that hectic though things have been for the past few months, they are set to get busier for a while as airshow season is now underway, just to add to everything else I have going on! I have made a conscious decision that with a lot of work to get done for the beer festival this year I will need to step back a little with the aviation stuff - a few shows I'd usually attend I've made the decision to drop for this year - the show at RAF Cosford this coming weekend is an example - I've enjoyed the last few years from a social perspective - it's great to meet up with and spend time with some fantastic folk - but not so much from a flying point of view as I've felt that for the amount of effort involved it hasn't quite delivered as much as I'd have liked. Many of the same people I would usually see there have made the decision to travel to Yeovilton this year so my decision to drop Cosford was an easier one. Sometimes when life is really busy it pays just to take a step back and analyse how time is best spent.

In the interest again of good use of time I've meal-planned this week to keep some of our tea time meals to needing minimal prep. I really need to do a full freezer audit at some stage and plan using up some of the stuff from there - the lamb shoulder I bought at last month's farmer's market will get cooked this weekend coming so I'm already looking forward to leftovers last week in the form of Moroccan coucous salad, but beyond that I confess to not only having a sketchy grasp of what is currently lurking in there. As I didn't have the time to do the audit this weekend we have shopped minimally for just the bones of our meals this week - there will be a degree of inventiveness by the time Thursday comes along I suspect!

The best way of keeping in track of what you have and saving on food waste as I have regularly said before is to check what you have in store already before you shop for more. I try to always start my meal planning each week with a quick look at the fridge and the larder - currently I know I have sweet potatoes and parsnips that need using up so chicken portions went on my list to buy this week (bought by MrEH while I was out yesterday, in fact, in the interests of full transparency!) - those will get thrown into a big roasting tin tonight with all sorts of veggies that will happily roast alongside them and can then form the basis of meals for the week. I couldn't resist a little bag of Jersey Royal potatoes so those will go in the pan with everything else, take on a little of the chickeney flavour and will then be used in a frittata along with the final couple of rashers of bacon from a pack in the freezer. (Frittata is a truly fabulous way of using up small amounts of things - if needed it can also make less eggs than ideally needed to serve the number of folk you are feeding stretch further, too). The second half of the chicken pieces will get used as the protein component to a couscous salad later in the week - essentially just soaked couscous with whatever we fancy thrown in. (It also keeps well for a couple of days in the fridge, if needed) MrEH also found mangoes on sale for 39p this week and knowing how much I LOVE a mango he unleashed his hunter-gatherer instincts to grab me one - some of that will definitely find its way into the couscous this week for a lovely summery hit of flavour. (The rest will likely get eaten by me, as it is. Nom!) Add some chickpeas, spinach leaves and halved cherry tomatoes and hey presto, one quick, easy, colourful meal which will deliver several of our 5 a day in one go.

With the "busy-ness" of the past few weeks I'm conscious that my activity levels and exercise have dropped a bit - not surprising really but I am starting to feel the effects both mentally and physically so this month I'm aiming to up the ante again. I've been off running for a few weeks with a sore knee but frankly it doesn't seem to be any better for not running on it so I'm going to ease myself back in gently and see how it reacts, I think. My habit in the past has been to just throw myself back into it at the level I was at before any injury-related break but of course that's pretty stupid really, isn't it (Yes, I can tell even the non runners reading this are shaking their heads in disbelief!) so this time I'll be starting with a 1km treadmill run tonight to see how things feel - if all OK that will be followed up by a couple of road miles tomorrow evening at a steady pace and then looking to increase that just a tiny bit each time I go out for a while. Hopefully if all goes well that will also gently get me used to running in the substantially warmer temperatures we now seem to have which while lovely I DO find a bit of a challenge to run in!

I'm also aiming to do a bit more towards my challenge this week by making some time on Friday to do the next stage of clothes sorting, and also hopefully get some stuff to the charity shop as well. I know there is a bag of stuff ready to go already - I'll be aiming to get together enough odds and ends to make up a second one also to take at the same time.  watch this space for updates on that one!