Sunday, 9 March 2014

Food Glorious Food - and the nanny state

Last week I found myself on the receiving end of a group sales presentation over lunch. The invitation had proclaimed the restaurant in question to be top class, and the restaurant’s blowing of its own online trumpet was extensive and generous. In marked contrast to its portion sizes. I was left with an abiding impression of “art food” and a sense of being somewhat less than full when leaving.

This happened to be the same day as the Chief Medical Officer for England, one Sally Davies, announced that there “may have to be” a sugar tax introduced “to tackle the nation’s obesity epidemic”.

As ever, these guardians of public health choose to gloss over the fact that it is entirely possible, let us say, to enjoy a single Mars bar without wanting to eat six more in rapid succession, and that it is in turn disproportionately unfair on the less well off to insist that they hand more money over to the government in return for being allowed to indulge in moderation. Just as is the case with any substance deemed sinful despite remaining legal. Perhaps it will not be long before the casual trade in contraband cigarettes is displaced by “Psst. Anyone for duty free Mars bars?”

But back to that restaurant. If the Chief Medical Officer has her way, what better marketing slogan than “Half the food – Twice the price”? Of course I jest. But it would be so easy to picture her glaring at a Mars bar and hoping that one day the slogan would describe exactly what she had achieved.

And so to a brief interlude on drink. At the lunch, I had wanted to recommend a specialist beer outlet in Cheltenham to a fellow participant, and could not remember its name no matter how hard I tried. Back at the office, a quick search brought up the name “Favourite Beers”. But for some inexplicable reason, its website was barricaded behind a “TalkTalk Homesafe” obstacle (how it got there is a mystery in its own right) which had classed it as “Drugs, Tobacco and Alcohol” and thereby evidently unfit for free online access. Really? So two legal substances are being grouped together with an illegal one, all in the cause of the latest nanny state inspired impediment to unfettered internet use?

Yes, political class, I know you like to be seen to be doing something. But perhaps one day it will dawn on you, in the face of gesture initiatives like these, why you are more despised than ever.

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