18 Aug 2008

Britain Elite Hates Fat People

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Jenny McCarthy posts dispatches from the front lines of Britain’s class war.

The old-fashioned stereotype of a Tory used to be someone “very fat, very lazy, and very clever,” someone rather like Evelyn Waugh. But embonpoint today is looked upon in Britain, not as an indication of access to good dining and fine wine, but as a sure indicator of indiscipline and low achievement. Basically, Britain’s elite is today firmly Puritan, at least with respect to body image.

Jeremy Clarkson… wrote last week of his experiences driving the new Rolls-Royce coupé around town: “It’s been a genuinely alarming insight into the bitterness of Britain’s obese and stupid underclass.”

When he drove past a bus queue, he said, he realised that “hate is something you can touch and see and smell.”

The “obese and stupid” people at the bus stop hadn’t done anything specific, it seemed: presumably they had simply failed to light up with sufficient admiration as Clarkson coasted by in his swanky car.

Still, you don’t have to be Karl Marx to reflect that if you were waiting for a bus while fretting about the rising cost of heating the family home, the sudden appearance of Clarkson in a £296,500 vehicle might not fill the heart with unalloyed joy.

In July, the Sunday Times and Spectator columnist Rod Liddle saw a fat woman and her plump children in a supermarket.

She didn’t say or do anything discourteous, it appeared, nor did the children, but the mere glimpse of “this hag”, her “vile lardy brood” and the contents of her shopping trolley prompted the writer to a bizarre rant which culminated in the fantasy that “I set the fat mother on fire with my Zippo lighter, and on the way out I kicked the smallest fat child hard in the gut.”

It is worth pointing out that while both Clarkson and Liddle are normal-looking men, neither would exactly be in line to win the Weight Watchers Slimmer of the Year Award. But then middle-class fat is, for them, texturally different from underclass fat. Good things have poured into middle-class fat, you see: steak, Roquefort, red wine and a heartily robust enjoyment of life. Underclass fat, however, being composed entirely of chicken nuggets, chips and wilful idleness, is a mark of moral degeneracy.

The people who are quickest to sneer at “chavs” and the perceived physical shortcomings of the “underclass” often seem to be those most obsessed with flaunting their own “bling” and extending their unprovoked rudeness to those with far less social and financial clout. Odd, that. It does sometimes leave you wondering, though, just what the term “to behave with class” really means.

The interior-linked anti-obesity rants are hilarious.


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