spotted-dick-with-custard-1.jpg

An Immodest Proposal

When I was ten, my parents, my much younger sister and I moved from the UK to Boston. Three weeks after we arrived, JFK was shot. Ten months after that, we moved to Pittsburgh.

Because Dad’s contract at one of the Pittsburgh universities was year-to-year, and because he and my Mother didn’t know how long they would be in the States, the following year I was shipped back to England, to boarding school in Malvern Wells.

I don’t really know how to explain what that’s like except to say that …

  1. HeartofAmerica

    Great post, something I have been advocating for years.

  2. drpete

    Nanny is becoming ubiquitous, She.  Great morning read for me.  Thanks.

  3. She
    David John: Excellent post. Thanks. 

    Recently I watched on c-span a hearing on how homeless children cope with going to school. Near the end of the hearing Maxine Waters asked the children what could be done to make it easier for them. Two of the three children said that they’d like a ride to school – the boy said that he had to ride his bike and it made his legs tired.

    Found it, thanks. The stories are very sad and I feel for these kids. The part you mention starts at about 1:04:38 and it’s in response to Maxine (no surprise there) trying to throw money at the ‘transportation problem’ because children may be some distance from the school they’re required to attend. The old story–throw a bunch of money at a problem and if it doesn’t fix it, obviously you didn’t throw enough, so throw some more .  God forbid you should investigate prime causes. I don’t fault the kids.  The grownups need an attitude adjustment.

  4. The Great Adventure!

    I just want the recipe for the dessert in the photo.

  5. DrewInWisconsin

    Instapundit Glenn cheekily mentioned a connection between the rise in diabetes and the government-created “food pyramid” a few days ago.

    I don’t need a lot of convincing, I guess.

    But there are a lot of factors at work, I’m sure, including the lack of actual outside play for kids.

  6. David John

    Excellent post. Thanks. 

    Recently I watched on c-span a hearing on how homeless children cope with going to school. Near the end of the hearing Maxine Waters asked the children what could be done to make it easier for them. Two of the three children said that they’d like a ride to school – the boy said that he had to ride his bike and it made his legs tired.

    c-span, 15-12-2011, Homeless Children and Youth Act, Panel 1. (sorry, I don’t know how to embed it or link to it – but if you’re masochistic enought to watch it, you probably won’t mind the trouble to find it)

  7. Mel Foil

    You can get sued for allowing a kid to play in an environment known to be dangerous–outdoors–but not for creating a sedentary fatso. I blame the lawyers.

  8. Frozen Chosen

    Growing up in Fargo we used to get huge mounds of snow in the parking lot of our elementary school.  This made for excellent king-of-the-hill battles during recess. 

    I remember in 4th grade we would battle the 5th graders – girls included – in some rousing matches that included plenty of rough housing.  The next year when we became 5th graders the 4th grade class declined to participate in our ritual.

    1972 – mark that down as the beginning of the end of at school mayhem/physical exercise.  Lousy 4th graders!

  9. Stephen Bishop

    Thanks She. That was a well written story.

  10. David Williamson

    That’s two Ricochet contributors (the other is Mr Delingpole) who seem to have been traumatized by school runs on the Malvern Hills.

    If it is the school I am thinking of, it has since been turned into a block of retirement apartments; a memorial to Mr Steyn’s thesis of demographic and cultural decline.

    As for Mrs Obama’s large, er, appetite for Government control of everything, I did try arugula once and it was rather bitter. I guess it will soon be compulsory.

    The food pyramid is, indeed, inverted – low carb and reduced Government is the way to go – but we seem to be going in the opposite direction.

    Mr Delingpole may well get his wish, for four more years of Mrs Obama telling us what to eat.

  11. Valiuth

    Bureaucrats have no common sense, or appreciation of how hard it is to make food that is good. If you want people to eat vegetables or fruits you need to find really tasty fruit and vegetables. All oranges are not the same. They can’t seem to recognize that. You can always buy an orange, but it will not always be good. Kids will not simply eat it because it is good for them. I don’t even eat it because it is good for me. I won’t eat an orange that is bad and neither will a child. No school in the US except really fancy expensive ones will shop for fruit and vegetables in a discriminating manner.  Or take the time to craft fine  dishes to cater to the many tastes of children. It can’t be done. 

    If you wanted to help children get nutrition , cheaply, they should just force them to take daily vitamin pills, but I would like to see how that goes over with the public. 

  12. She
    The Great Adventure!: I just want the recipe for the dessert in the photo. · 1 hour ago

    It does indeed look lovely. Very like the pudding (dessert) I ate at The Talbot Hotel in Ledbury a few years ago.  They made it especially for our family gathering (for me, actually!), and they called it spotted dick . . . (more about that to follow).

    A very adequate, easy substitute for the general class of steamed puddings we Brits either love or abhor can be found here.  It’s without the currants required for true spotted dick, but has the required stickyness and density.  Serve with Bird’s custard.

    REAL spotted dick, however requires  SUET pastry (the fat you feed your wild birds) crust, rolled out into a square, dotted with currants, and rolled up into a log shape.  It is then required to be tied up in a cloth, and tossed into a vat of boiling water, where it languishes, bubbling away, for I should think, about three days.  When it’s taken out, and the cloth removed, you have a lump of dense, slightly sticky, puttly colored dough with soggy currants scattered through it. 

    Slice thickly and serve with lumpy custard. 

    YUM!!

  13. Leigh

    Her “Let’s Move” campaign does actually focus on physical activity — though I’m reasonably sure Mrs. Obama would never even dream of encouraging anything so competitive and violent as dodge-ball.

    At a more local level, I’m all for encouraging children to eat healthy meals and for schools serving healthy lunches — within reasonable bounds.  (Criticizing parents — let alone overruling them — is way out of bounds.)  But that only works if the food actually tastes good!  Otherwise the kids are going to conclude that anything grownups say is good for them is yucky. 

  14. Susan in Seattle

    Simply brilliant. Thank you.

  15. She
    David Williamson: That’s two Ricochet contributors (the other is Mr Delingpole) who seem to have been traumatized by school runs on the Malvern Hills.

    If it is the school I am thinking of, it has since been turned into a block of retirement apartments

    The campus was turned into an ‘international college’ several decades ago, and the students were merged into one of the  other girls’ schools in the area.  I think there are only two schools left, but in the mid-sixties there were at least half a dozen.  Terrifying dances with “Wells House Boys School” every Spring, made doubly difficult by the fact that tall girls such as myself always had to take the boy’s part in dancing practice, then insisted on leading the (always) shorter boys around at the actual event.

    It’s hard not to be affected  by the Middle English countryside, perhaps the most perfect farmland and beautiful vistas on earth.   And the lovely Great Malvern Priory, one of the few churches in England that wasn’t wrecked by Henry the Fat (just keeping the post on track) . . .

    Yes, I think boarding school marks you for life, one way or another.

  16. G.A. Dean

    Great post… and I second your “immodest proposal”, but I don’t expect to see such an idea enacted, at least not by this government and this school system. Our modern schools are doing as well for our children’s health as they have done for learning. More money and management have brought us lower scores and increased obesity.

    Of course the nutritionists and school heath “experts” are well intentioned. Everybody is well intentioned these days, but no one considers that they may have the whole thing wrong, and actually be making things worse. My own undiagnosed diabetes was made worse by the well intentioned advice I got from my doctors.  I follow other advise now.

    There was a time when the very best medical authorities (following “settled science”) routinely bled patients, sometimes to death, in an effort to cure them.

  17. Don Seim

    Contrary to what you said about not remembering what the high school offered in terms of diet, I distinctly remember the long line-ups on Fridays when the menu was hot dogs and fries. The two chefs (I use the term loosely) were the aunts of my best friend and, who later became the Best Man at my wedding. Their names were Ruby and Mabel which we perverted into Ruble and Maybe.

    At the time, I was blissfully ignorant of the Catholic fetish for not eating meat on Fridays. In fact, I was blissfully ignorant of anything regarding religion.

    We had neighbors whom it turned out were Jewish, but I eagerly ate ate their culinary fare without question and  failed to notice that there were certain offerings at my house that were declined.

    It was only when I questioned my mother on these dietary conundrums that she informed me, “They’re Jewish.” Her comment was meaningless to me at the time and remains so to this day.

    I could certainly not be described as  “religious,” but I have great respect for any religion that promotes the “Golden Rule.”

    This may well exclude Islam. Still thinking about this one.

  18. Mama Toad

    As a homeschooler in NYState, I am required to file quarterly reports with my local school district on each student. Each school year, my younger students must have had “900 hours of instruction.”

    Since my third grader finishes his work (Japanese, math, history/geography, science, writing, reading, grammar, music, art, religion, and typing lesson) in about 2 hours, I would have to provide 450 days of instruction to get 900 hours. Since there are only 365 days in a year, this is not possible.

    So, I have him play outside. For hours. I have been known to toss tadpoles out the door and send shoes and coat after. My 8 year old third grader spends at least 3 hours outside playing or working each day. I therefore report him as having most of his scholastic time in “physical education” — which is true.

    My 15yo son, a high school sophomore, studies about 6 hours each day, but even he has at least 1 hour of outdoor time.  None of my children are fat, and all of them know how to work and play. 

    Peace — I’m headed outside for recess!

  19. John Murdoch
    G.A. Dean: 

    There was a time when the very best medical authorities (following “settled science”) routinely bled patients, sometimes to death, in an effort to cure them. 

    Alas, bad example.

    There’s actually a valid, clinical basis for bleeding patients. A common genetic disorder among men of Anglo-Saxon heritage is called hemochromatosis. It is the opposite of anemia–instead of having too little iron in your blood, you have too much. So much so that you look visibly pink.

    The consequences are severe: left undiagnosed, this is the fast route to  heart failure and/or the kidney/liver transplant list. But the treatment is absurdly simple: bleeding.

    Nowadays it’s called therapeutic phlebotomy, but my hematologist says, with an evil leer, that it’s exactly the same thing. He claims that really wants to keep an aquarium full of leeches. (He says that to make me squirm.)

    In practice, he sends me to the blood center. Where mere mortals can give a unit of blood every eight weeks, I give two units of red blood cells every three to four. 

    Bleeding made some patients feel much better. It still does.

  20. She

    Mama Toad, you’ve just reminded me of our school motto, ‘Ora, Labora, Lude.’ Pray, Work, Play. I think you’ve got it covered. Haven’t thought about that for years . . . Thanks!

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