Peter Rhodes on Naga's dilemma, the true nature of obesity and a Bard egg at Stratford

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

Naga Munchetty

HERE'S a grisly example of suffering for your art. In the latest production of King John at Stratford, the king (it's a genderfluid thing) is played by Rosie Sheehy and the action begins with a hangover. The king, at the front of the stage, cracks a raw egg into a glass of tomato juice and drinks this "prairie oyster" hangover cure. Down, vile jelly! (King Lear - almost).

I'VE watched the footage and studied the transcript and I'm blowed if I can find anything unacceptable in Naga Munchetty's views on the alleged racism of Donald Trump, or her own reflections on being told to "go back." But that's mainly because it happened in a chatty moment on BBC Breakfast. If Munchetty had been presenting the Ten O'Clock News and decided to rant against Trump, that would clearly be over the top. But in the relaxed, unscripted setting of Breakfast, in my view, the rules can be relaxed. But the key words here are "in my view."

THE dilemma for Munchetty and all other BBC news staff is that they do not work for an organisation run on the gentle, pragmatic rules that might be drawn up by woolly old liberals like me. The BBC is not like any other British news organisation. It is the state broadcaster. It is answerable to Parliament. It gets £4,000 million a year from the public purse and is almost an extension of the Civil Service. Munchetty's words would not have caused alarm on ITV or Sky but at the Beeb different rules apply and if you accept the Beeb's benefits, in the shape of massive salaries, job security and amazing pensions, you have to accept the rules, too. Even the daft ones.

I CAME home from holiday in Devon with an extra couple of pounds wobbling in my saddlebags. There is a simple reason for this. I ate heartily and drank lots of cider. In short, I am a gourmand, a trencherman, a gutser, a fat slob. At least I thought I was until I read the latest guidelines from the British Psychological Society telling us that obesity is not a choice and that we should watch our language when discussing fat issues, for fear of causing offence. So, instead of saying "an obese person" we should say "a person with obesity." This is a great relief. I cannot tell you how good it feels to have the appalling stigma lifted and to know that I am not a fat slob but a slob with fatness.

AND here's a curious sequel. When I got home, I ate less and drank less and, after a few days, my BMI (body-mass index) was back down to a respectable 25. If obesity is not a choice I can only conclude that it is a mysterious virus which magically blew away somewhere on the M5. A miracle.

Peter Rhodes

By Peter Rhodes

Award-winning columnist and blogger. Keeping an eye on the tribulations and trivia of a fast-changing world


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