“Fat is Good”, so was Spam.
I like spam. Back in the late nineteen fifties I was living in a sparsely furnished room at a Paddington Boarding House. The front door had a sign “Migrants Welcome”. The boarding house was run by a Maltese woman. Her husband was a butcher. They were a good and devout family and a loaded shotgun was kept in the wardrobe.
On the wall and above my bed was a picture of a Jesus cruelly nailed to a wooden cross. What was disconcertingly spooky, depending on what angle this picture was viewed at, that its eyes would open and shut alternatively when stepping past.
When the Jesus had its eyes open they were piously cast upwards. Perhaps the subliminal message and hope being, that the viewer would also become pious and work towards that upwards heavenly goal as well. It turned me off 3D pictures and holograms for life.
At night, and before hopping into my bed, I would turn the picture facing the wall. During the day and before going to work I would always politely turn Jesus back again allowing it to ponder and gaze over my bed. It would, at least during daytime, allow Him to cast his eyes, perhaps in a despairingly manner, heavenly upwards again for anyone passing my bed during the day. I did not want to upset a devout family with a shotgun in the wardrobe.
Sometimes, most often after work and tired, I used to sit on the edge of my single bed, open a tin of spam with that handy little tool that was attached to the top and ever so slowly (in order not to break it) turn and twist the lid off.
One was greeted by a little white coloured blubbery bit of fat coagelatined to the top hiding its deliciously pink coloured innards. The bouquet of the spam greeting the nostrils was always immensely pervasive. Scooping it up with a teaspoon while turning the pages of V.Woolf’s Orlando, was one of those little pleasures of bachelorhood that gets forgotten once married, and sitting and eating on the edge of a bed becomes, very sensibly IMHO, banned forever. I remember it though as if yesterday.
Now the original and true meaning of ‘spam’ is lost and for baby boomers that joy forever denied, even though, while sauntering past the acreages of Woolies isles I sometimes still spot a tin of Spam, proudly and defiantly competing with more modern delicacies such as the cryonically preserved Crunchy Chico Bar or boxes loaded with healthy Fruity Loops.
So much now is lost and gone into the bowels of history forever, the same as so much else during that era. We have all but forgotten the pungent smell of the spattering mutton legs on Friday afternoons together with mum’s baked pumpkin and spuds, and happy kids hurtling down-hill on Billy carts, all at Redfern’s or Rockdale’s back lanes.
And yet, looking at photos from the fifties and sixties, there is striking difference between then and now. We were all skinny. Well, skinny, not really, but compared with now, sure, skinny! Hardly a fat person is in sight. Now, here surely is something to ponder about? The latest information on obesity puts the blame on diets.
The question that never seems to get asked is; if we were all so slim and taut some fifty years ago, and Spam and Mutton was one of our most staple diets, how come we were all so much slimmer?
The answer might well be because of spam and mutton spatter with lashes of salty larded on white Tip-Top. Let’s go back, if that’s the way to beating obesity.
I have noticed that canny advertisers are quick in the uptake to grab the dollar and turn a perceived adversity into a handsome profit. All of a sudden we have the most glorious and lusciously full ample bosomed and ravishingly beautiful size eighteen models lolling and rolling around on our TV screens and on beaches. They are shown on the advertisements seducing equally larger men that drive around Volvo’s or seen walking into banks for larger mortgages.
Larger men are also now used in advertising with huge bums sticking out of large cars strapping in the large toddlers with the large wife looking on with smiles of conjugal promises and/or generous approval. Yes, definitely, model agencies are looking for larger people now and those anemic looking bone skinny girls on catwalks will soon be given the flick. About time too ,we all need more room, move over. C’est la vie.
Obviously, those large Insurance companies have done their homework and also assiduously studied the latest statistics. They don’t seem at all alarmed or daunted by large people. They wouldn’t advertise them would they? Is ‘fat is good’ replacing ‘greed is good?
As for those boarding rooms in Paddington, they are all gone now. The Maltese family most likely retired in Santa Magdalena retirement villa on Rosella’s circuit at Dooley-Vale. The picture of Jesus and the roving eyes having survived all. It’s hanging above their double bed, the loaded shotgun never used. They were a devout family.
“Fat is good”.