In theory, Dame Sally Davies makes plenty of sense with her call to take action against junk food. Pervasive advertising and increasing portion sizes are slowly conspiring to hobble our children. The rates of obesity, tooth decay and diabetes more than prove this. Something, as Davies says, needs to be done.
However, one of her suggestions hit me right where I live with the power of an exploding star. It is a suggestion so ludicrous that it threatens to tear apart the very fabric of British society as we know it. It is breathtaking in its arrogance. That’s right: Dame Sally Davies, England’s outgoing chief medical officer, wants to ban eating on public transport. Quite frankly, how dare she?
Being able to eat on public transport is a fundamental right. I eat on public transport. My father eats on public transport. Sure, when we get back any further than this things get a little less certain, but answer me this: if your distant ancestors had the opportunity to eat a warm Greggs sausage and bean melt on their way to work, do you think they would refuse? Of course not. They would leap at the chance, marvelling at the pure thrusting decadence of getting to eat baked beans with their bare hands as they were carried across the country.
Let’s put it another way. On the few occasions when I travel into London to work, the journey takes me 38 minutes. How am I supposed to spend this time if don’t buy a Ginsters pasty and a Twirl and eat them on the train as my lunch? Am I supposed to catch up on work? Read a book? Does Dame Sally Davies seriously expect me to simply sit there and contemplate the state of my life? I cannot possibly allow such a thing, because that would surely lead me into a deep and irreparable depression. Davies would do well to remember that I have only managed to reach the position I have in life because I deny self-exploration at every turn in favour of further developing an inappropriate relationship to food. It is the only thing that keeps me going.
And don’t give me any claptrap about how my snacking influences children. Listen: if a kid sat opposite me on a train and watched me violently inhale a five-pack of M&S triple Belgian chocolate chunk cookies in the manner of someone who has literally never seen food before and needs to eat as much as possible to stop themselves from crying, would they really be inspired to copy me? Absolutely not. They would be horrified. They would see images of me grunting and sweating and covered in crumbs whenever they closed their eyes. In fact, I would argue that seeing me devour train snacks in the manner that Nicolas Cage consumed alcohol in the latter stages of Leaving Las Vegas would completely repulse them. It would actively prevent them from making another unhealthy food choice ever again.
And what would happen to M&S if eating on public transport was banned? Nobody likes eating M&S snacks. Nobody, if they look deep enough into their hearts, has ever truly enjoyed an M&S scotch egg. But they still buy them by the truckload, just because there is a branch of Simply Food near the platform and they have a bit of time to fill. Take this away from people – make people actually have to travel to a branch of Marks & Spencer for food – and the business would collapse in an instant. That’s what Dame Sally Davies is really arguing for here: the complete annihilation of the British economy.
However, I am a fair man and I believe in compromise. So let’s meet in the middle. I will still eat food on public transport but – in deference to the authority of Sally Davies – I vow to no longer eat hot katsu curry on public transport. Especially during morning rush hour.