“German kids are so fat,” my friend Jens said to me the other day.
“Yeah,” I said, slightly unconvinced and fairly bored, to be honest. “I heard. Sometimes they say the British are the fattest in Europe, then it’s the Germans, then the next year it’s the Brits again and every now and then it’s the Italians.”
“It’s because mothers don’t cook anymore,” he said, disapprovingly.
“Hmmmm,” I said.
“Just because they’d rather just spend the time they should be cooking relaxing and watching TV. So all they do is feed their kids junk. Junk, junk, junk. There was a survey done recently – more than half of German kids didn’t know that you could make mashed potatoes from scratch.”
“I don’t believe any of those surveys,” I said.
Jens looked at me, aghast. It was like I’d said I didn’t believe in evolution or the Holocaust or Mars or Australia.
“What?” he spat.
“I don’t believe any of those surveys about how fat and sluggish all German kids are, or how fat and useless German mums are. I don’t believe them for a second.
“Look, I live in Neukölln, right? It’s the, like, poorest place to live in the whole Bundesrepublik. Like, these are the underclass feral kids they’re always talking about, these kids are the poorest kids in Germany. And they’re meant to be the fatties, right? They always say: Germans are the fattest in Europe and the Hartz-IV urchins are the fattest in Germany. Every time they do their bollocks surveys, that’s what they say: Hartz-IV kids are disproportionately overweight.
“But I look at these kids every day. And they’re not. They’re always skating around the block, skootering up and down rooftops, throwing stones at postmen, stuff like that. They’re all like Jane and Michael Banks on acid. And they have skinny little ankles and skinny little bird mouths and they’re not fat. Every now and then you see a fat one, but we had fat kids when I was at school, too. There were fat kids in the olden days, too. I’ve read Enid Blyton.”
I had to pause for breath and Jens tried to interrupt me but I just steamrollered over him.
“And then all that crap about their mums not cooking for them. You know that woman who lives downstairs from me? She is a right slag. She’s such a slag. They could put her photo in the dictionary underneath the word ‘slag’. She has six different kids from six different men, well, actually five, but she had one kid with one man, and then another kid with another man and then another kid with man number four again. It is fairly slaggy behaviour. I am a sex-positive feminist, and even I think she should put her ankles together occasionally, what a slapper. And you know what? Even she cooks for her kids! She calls into the courtyard, while they’re playing barefoot with lighters and old tyres and rat corpses and stuff, she calls into the courtyard: ‘Dinner’s ready! I’ve finished! I’ve finished cooking!’ And she gets her oldest girl to help her. I don’t believe one thing they say in those stupid surveys.”
“Jacinta,” said Jens. “It is a fact that –”
I interrupted him.
“It is a fact that only mentally ill people agree to take part in surveys,” I said. “And mentally ill people are often overweight. That’s true. But I don’t believe German kids are that fat. They’re pretty skinny, to be honest. German kids are pretty skinny.”
“You’re being facetious,” said Jens. “You’re being totally facetious. Kids are getting fatter and fatter and fatter and fatter and they won’t stop until we do something about it.”
“Oh, right,” I said, sarcastically. “Okay. Let’s do something about it, Jens.”
The thing is, though, even if all these horror stories about one in two German kids being clinically obese were true (they’re not), what can you do about it? It’s like the whole thing with integration: there is no point thinking about it. Either something is illegal – murdering my child because she wants to marry a Turkish-German instead of a Turk from the village back home, feeding my kid crack – or it isn’t – not speaking perfect German, letting a kid drink Coca-Cola for breakfast.
Of course, in an ideal world we’d all be baking Bio-Dinkelbrötchen for breakfast and Quinoa-Salat and carrot and pea soup for dinner. But so what? This isn’t an ideal world. People are lazy, and stupid, ignorant and weak. Poor people aren’t even particularly lazier than anyone-else, they just have less money. But people are lazy, and stupid, ignorant and weak. We can’t make people better. We can’t make people perfect. We have to stop worrying about things we can’t change. It’s a waste of energy.
So, my mum phoned me up the other night.
“What are you having for dinner?” She asked.
“Oh, one of those Dr. Oetker pizzas,” I said. “We’ve added extra sundried tomatoes and goat’s cheese on the top.”
“Ooooh,” she said, in a fearful voice. “That’s what they say you should never do.”
“Who’s they?” I asked.
“The government,” she said. “Because of childhood obesity and that. It’s a really big problem, Jacinta. And it’s spreading.”
Even if it is a big problem, the government telling parents that the one thing they should never do is put a bit of extra cheese on a packet pizza is not the solution. This is what the British and German governments should do: chill the fuck out, accept that some parents are useless fuckers and stop spreading panic. The useless parents aren’t listening and the decent ones are just getting stressed out.
In fact, I think the useless parents are made worse by all this panicky bollocks. If everyone’s nagging you about the orange-juice-schorles, then why shouldn’t you give your three-year-old a big glass of Coke? Huh? Actually, I must admit I saw a baby drinking Red Bull from a can with a straw the other day. But what are you going to do?
Something should either be illegal – or not. If it’s legal to feed a baby Red Bull, then we need to accept that some parents are gonna do it. And if it’s too unhealthy, then it should be made illegal. Stop expecting people to have any sense. There’s no point.
And then, what they really need to do: they need to ban all those crappy processed hams that are in the shape of a fucking teddy bear and in a colourful packet and totally fucking unhealthy for you. I looked at the back of one the other day; it had more chemicals in it than paint. Like seriously? I shouldn’t put extra cheese on a fucking pizza but you guys are allowed to put poisonous ham in a colourful teddy bear-shaped plastic packet? What a load of tripe.