Jamie Oliver is masterful with food. Jamie Oliver seems to me to be an amiable kind of chap. From everything I can see Jamie Oliver is a great dad and a loving respectful husband. This is the impression I get as a fairly passive observer of his doings. The trouble is I get the impression Jamie Oliver thinks he is a visionary savior of the digestive world. I’m not certain he is, but the thing that winds me up is that he always seems to be addressing the nation as if he is telling us off.
This week the budget was announced with this sugar tax thing on soft drinks. I first heard it and thought fine, OK, do that, no problem, I can see the logic behind the intent. Then I heard an impassioned sound bite from Jamie Oliver. It was rousing. It was sort of like Braveheart. It was a “drops mic, leaves stage” type of thing. It sounded cockney of course (not so Braveheart), which gave it a “for the people” edge. He said something along the lines of how he never thought there would be a government strong enough to take on big businesses. He finished with the statement that the world had changed today. (I believe at that point he dropped his mic and left his stage).
I felt a little bit irritated by it. I hadn’t had a lot of time to process the implications, I just felt a bit patronized at first. Then I gave it a load more thought and felt that my irritation was that the government didn’t really deserve a strongest in the world compliment. Yes they had found a clever way of generating moolah that implied it would prevent children getting fat by getting them to do more sport. Of course it’s not that simple, but nothing ever is I grant you. I spent my journey from Farnham to Hook considering it. Surely to stop kids quaffing evil, the price would have to go up to make buying it prohibitive, so the big businesses would potentially increase or maintain margins, passing the sin tax on to the consumer? Poor big businesses how the big strong government has attacked you.
But OK, you’ve still got less fat kids right? Will that occur? I’m running 13 miles on Sunday. One of the tools in my kit is a sugary soft drink. It’s an advised pursuit for long lasting physical endeavors. I never drink them usually. I will be drinking one to help me do the sportiest thing I ever do. Of course I know it’s not that simple but that’s the point, it’s not that simple.
But back to Jamie and his telling people off. I just don’t think he has solutions that justify his righteousness sometimes. I bought his book about getting everyone to go back to scratch cooking to save money and be healthier. It cost me hundreds if you include the book and all the crazy amounts of perishable ingredients a lot of which got wasted. I still buy microwave ready meals, for simple reasons of time and home economy with which he claimed to be helping.
It’s like those Innocent Smoothie radicals. Do you remember them? One was called Richard Reeves. He was another grub related savior of the masses. I saw him speak at a conference once. He used a telling off voice to mock a street speaking muvva for stopping her little Johnnie eating an apple coz it would mean he wouldn’t eat his effing chips later” (guffaws from audience). Street speaking muvva should be giving little Johnnie a £2.95 smoothie with a joke on the label. Of course she should! Whilst she adds a jar of capers to her shopping list to make what Jamie said Johnnie should have for his tea. I don’t think he had the solution either.
These guys are clever, artful and there is a lot of good that I can see in what they do. All my issue is that none of their crusades seem to me to be as helpful as THEY themselves appear to think they are.
So all I say is this. Stop dropping that mic and leaving the stage, put it down nicely and wait for constructive feedback.