Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Foodies & the class struggle

Watched Jamie Oliver's new 'Ministry of Food' series last night. The lisping mockney-boy who has become the darling of the chattering-and-dining classes is an easy target to have a pop at. But as with his previous campaigning series on school dinners, it's impossible not to warm to him.

Looking at the eating habits of kids in a single parent family living on benefits in Rotherham he said that he's seen AIDs orphans in Soweto with better diets. Worn down by the failure of his 'pass it forward' approach to teaching the family and their friends to cook - he raged that he was angry but he didn't know with what or with who.

This was a modern form of poverty. There wasn't the industrial grime of previous generations, but living on £80 benefit a week, the mum spent £70 on junk food. There was a nice looking house with a big TV and a modern kitchen, but they were heavily in debt and often had to resort to the pawn shop to get through the week. And it is the modern expression of the class divide. 70 years after Orwell wrote the Road To Wigan Pier, and almost 170 years after Engels wrote The Condition Of The English Working Class - class is still the most important influence on our health and life expectancy.

By some genius stroke of scheduling Jamie was preceeded by Nigella Express. The lovely Nigella licked her lips and pouted her way through half an hour hopping on and off red buses and popping in and out of delis on the Kings Road to pick up essential ingredients for her dinner party.

I can honestly say that I have never been to dinner party. But by the end of the evening, the only thing I wanted to bring along wasn't a bottle of Pinot Grigiot but a fucking machine gun.


Anonymous said...

I was shocked by the Jamie Oliver programme last night. We often get the message, through the media and the government, that we live in an affluent society. Sometimes we don't even look at what's going on on our own doorstep. I live in one of the most socially deprived areas of London - very ethnically mixed, where many schools have more than 50% of children on free school meals, etc. These families pay more for their electricity and gas as they have to pay in advance; they don't get banks wanting to give them credit cards -instead they have to go to loan sharks. A couple of wards away there's going to be a council by-election and the BNP have decided to stand. They'll be putting out messages of hate - blaming immigrants for lack of jobs and housing, etc etc. In fact the fault lies directly with the government which, following on from decades of Tory governments, decided not to dismantle anti-union legislation, privatization, health service cutbacks, etc etc, but actually built on them. Now the whole edifice is beginning to crack. Unfortunately it may fall on those who can handle it least.

Anonymous said...

Hi Journeyman,

I would like to invite you to a dinner party.

Are you free on the 26th?

There are some people I would just LOVE you to meet.

By all means bring the machine gun.

Your cue is when I go out to put the coffee on.