Monthly Archives: April 2011

Weekly photo challenge: Round

Round and about, Wellington waterfront, New Zealand

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A preoccupation with fat

Better to focus on the strength and beauty of the human spirit.

I loathe and detest television producers’ and programmers’ current preoccupation with fat.

For example, reality fat shows where excessively overweight people are pitted against each other in a bid to lose the most kilos; or a British family of four – all of whom are morbidly obese – trying to change a lifetime of bad habits; and now a sitcom about a large (fat) family brim full of fat jokes.

I know the first two scenarios are examples of programming on a budget. They cost little to make. The chosen candidates give the impression of enjoying being the centre of attention for a change and are probably doing so for little or no payment – their 15 minutes of fame. It’s pathetic.

In the case of all candidates selected (of the shows we get to see), fat equals stupid equals ridicule.

The programs reek of voyeurism – like a circus sideshow featuring the world’s fattest person.

I remember an extremely smart girl in my class throughout our teenage years. Her German-born mother was a petite and very neatly dressed, very precise. I can’t recollect the context of the discussion we were having in class, but I do remember Alison saying, “intelligent people don’t get fat.” (I could hear her mother in the background on this one.) I didn’t agree with her then…and I don’t agree with her now. The answer is not that simple, there are so many other factors at work.

Reality shows don’t focus on intelligent people. Intelligent people don’t put themselves up for derision.

I prefer programmes focusing and aspiration and genuine achievement, of people succeeding when odds are stacked against them, stories that bring tears to your eyes and applaud the strength of the human spirit.

Our worst taxi ride

Did this in our taxi ride from hell

This morning we needed to catch a cab to the airport from our hotel in central Sydney.

During our six-day stay we’ve been in a variety of taxis – from clean and tidy to smelly and unkempt. The appearance of the driver often gives a clue to the state of the car’s interior.

But this morning, we had no clue as to the sort of drive we were about to embark on.

The driver was asian. I suspect Vietnamese because he was softly spoken – barely audible – and had a strong accent. He was neatly dressed and the inside of the cab was clean and tidy even though a little aged. After we’d fastened our seat belts, we had to ask him to turn down the radio. It was so loud as to make conversation impossible and was tuned to a station playing unidentifiable trash.

Then we had to ask if he wouldn’t mind winding up his window. Nothing worse than being blown to bits in the back seat. If I wanted that, I’d ride on a motorbike!

Anyway with that done we settled down for our early morning trip, a chance to glance at the sights one last time. How wrong I was.

My first thoughts as we sped through the city streets turned to whether taxi companies were liable in the event of an accident. I didn’t feel safe … if we were to crash, would the company cover hospital and travel expenses?

We soon reached the new tunnel – opened in time for the Olympics – which gives a more direct route to the airport. I had thought that our driver’s pumping of the accelerator was because we were in the city. I was wrong. It had nothing to do with the road. He just seemed to like releasing and depressing every few seconds. So much so that I began to feel queasy.

I wondered who on earth had taught him to drive, whether in fact he actually had had lessons, and who in their right mind granted him a license? I got the feeling he was driving the cab like a tuk-tuk with each depression of his foot coinciding with the revolution of a pedal. We kept jolting gently along until suddenly our driver slammed on the brakes, I was thrown forward and we came to a jarring halt narrowly missing the rear of the cab in front of us. Thank God for seat belts!

He mumbled something – I don’t know whether it was an apology or an excuse, and then we continued on lurching toward the airport.

There was a long queue on the drop-off ramp. Rather than stick with him until the bitter end, we bailed at the first possible opportunity, paid the man (thankful to be alive) and then wheeled our bags the extra distance.

I hadn’t been alone in my discomfort – my partner let out a huge ‘phew’ as the taxi drove off and we agreed it was one of our worst ever taxi rides.