I remember an absolutely awful story from my teens where a student at a local college had crashed his motorbike and was in a serious way. People who’d seen the accident rushed to help him and, in a bid to make him comfortable, removed his helmet which, unfortunately, resulted in him dying. That’s why Formula One racing drivers are always pulled from their mangled cars with their helmets in place. Who knows what damage it may be holding together? Even if the driver’s conscious he may be unaware of his injuries.
So, what little education I’ve had has taught me that if I find a motorcyclist lying by the side of the road, whatever I do, I’ll probably leave his helmet on. Although, even with my size of mouth, if his helmet’s the full-face type, I don’t know how I’d give him mouth-to-mouth as part of CPR. But at least I’ve been taught how to attempt to bring back a pulse and to encourage breathing when neither is in existence. Let’s just hope I never have to do it with a motorcyclist.
But isn’t education a wonderful thing? Not only was I taught how to check my change in a shop and read about family values from a Janet and John book, I can potentially prolong life too. It’s a shame that the benefits of education in the basics of life aren’t appreciated by everyone.
Late in 2011 I went away on holiday but while there, even in the weight-challenged country that’s America, noticed that there was mention in their newspapers of obesity problems in the UK. When you’re reading a US paper, you get used to seeing place names that we feel at home with. After all, I live within easy distance of New York, Philadelphia and Washington. However, when I saw Gateshead being reported it made me sit up. What, they’ve a Gateshead in the USA? Unfortunately it appears not. But the Yanks now know we have one in the UK and the news was that it’d been suggested that at least 30% of adults there are obese.
What was reported next had me jumping up and down – and not with happiness. The mayor of Gateshead, Joe Mitchinson (who, it was reported, has a 46in waist) believes poverty is to blame. He suggested that junk food is eaten because parents can’t afford healthier food. Does Mr Mitchinson know how much a bag of carrots costs? From the evidence, I’m guessing he knows how much he has to pay for a bag of chips.
Wondering if I was the only person to think like this, I soon after opened a Sunday paper to see a lady making exactly the same point; using a bag of carrots as the example and pointing out that they cost a lot less than a couple of bags of crisps.
“But my children won’t eat carrots” is the cry you’ll hear. Well not if they’ve been fed junk and sweets since birth they won’t. It’s not the cost of food that makes people fat; it’s the lack of knowledge about what they’re eating. We all know that too much of anything’s not good for us but if we don’t know what’s in our food, how can we judge if we’re getting too much of one thing?
We’d know that if we cooked. But most people don’t and can’t. Why? Because they were never taught. But we quickly learn how to sit on the sofa and watch all those adverts for convenience food.
Carrots are ok. They can be fabulous as part of a varied and interesting diet. Given a little time, I could probably give you a hundred ways to cook them or incorporate them into your life. And the same goes for apples and potatoes and peas and fish and the cheaper cuts of meat. We just need to be taught about it as part of all the other really important facts of life we’re taught at school such as reading and maths and how to have sex.
I was really upset to read the report while so far away from home. We obviously have a serious problem here in our region. Obesity is a complex subject and will be affected by many factors. But education must be the most significant factor of all. To ignore that and suggest it’s down to poverty is very misguided and, potentially, plain dangerous. Even a crash helmet and a bit of mouth-to-mouth won’t save you from the resulting ill-effects.