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Home > Culture and Society

Taking it on the chins

19 November 2004

Obesity reared its ugly bloated head and endless rolls of doughy disfigured chin again this week in two sweetly quivering stories, the first of which concerns the launch of the Monster Thickburger. This is basically a 1,420-calorie heap of fat and grease, described as 'a monument to decadence' by it's pushers, American chain Hardee's; described as 'a thrombus in a bun' by anyone who knows what a thrombus is.

Even the Telegraph was foaming at the ribs, claiming that Hardee's were pandering to America's 'worst instincts for greed and gluttony'. Whoa. Easy there. It's only a burger. Or is it? One Hardee's executive told the press, 'This is not a burger for tree-huggers.' No. He's right too. This is a burger for people who really couldn't give a fig for trees. A burger for people whose lack of concern for trees is mirrored by a lack of concern for just about everything else in the universe, excepting of course their own massive guts and enormous, frighteningly rapacious appetites, of which they are unnaturally proud, as they are unnaturally proud of everything else their stomping short-sightedness tosses up.

Meanwhile on this side of the Atlantic there was the tear-jerkingly wry tale of Sellafield Health Physics Monitor, Graeme Ivison, who was fired by British Nuclear Fuels Limited for no other reason than that he has weight issues, albeit gargantuan ones, to the tune of an eye-catching 30-stone 27-year-old carcass. A Sellafield spokesman explained why Ivison had to go. 'He couldn't fit through the turnstiles,' he said. 'He couldn't even get into his decontamination suit.' When the same spokesman was asked whether Ivison was appealing, he replied, 'No, he bloody isn't.' But he is. In actual fact, Ivison's appeal kicked off on Tuesday of this week. His defence rests on the counter-claim that Sellafield knew what a bloater he was when they hired him; but this presumes that he was, and that they hired him knowing he'd never be able to fit through the turnstiles, or into
the decontamination suit. And that doesn't seem likely.

The tragedy of the story is that Mr Ivison clearly cherished his job at the nuclear power plant. 'I can't tell you how chuffed I was to get a job at Sellafield,' he blubbed to the press. And now? 'I'm gutted,' he confessed. Enormously gutted. His father too. 'They should be ashamed,' said Ivison Senior. But should they really? Surely if a previously-able employee gorges himself into a state of uselessness, then it's any employers' duty to kick him into touch. Away with the deadwood. Surprising to read such a sympathetic article then, in - that's right - the Telegraph. 'Perhaps the saddest aspect of his situation,' they wrote, 'is that Graeme Ivison was, in his own quiet, private way, doing something about his weight. Acquaintances say he had succeeded in losing two stone shortly before BNFL fired him.'

Sadder still the fact that Ivison wouldn't let the Telegraph take his picture for the accompanying article. Poor fella. On the whole, he'd probably be happier if he was more like his American counterpart and unashamed to the point of gloating. Come on, Ivison. Slip yourself into a muumuu and get down to Hardee's. It was only Sellafield for Christ's sake. It's not the end of the world. Chins up.



Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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