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Thu, Feb 23rd - 10:31AM

How poverty made my diet better...

Everyone nowadays has an opinion on the state of the nation’s diet. The government are worried that people are getting obese and that the generation from the 70s & 80s are feeding their kids too much processed food.

 

Let me take you back to the 60s when I was a kid and my mammy had to feed her, dad and four kids on a low income. People talk about how poor I was back then when they have read my book Handstand in the Dark, which charts my childhood in the East End of Glasgow, and it was tough- no denying.

 

Seven days a week, we ate a full plate of potatoes, cabbage, carrots and a tiny bit of meat (which was more expensive) and our puddings were fruit or tinned custard and bananas. We regularly dined on fish, fried lightly in porridge oats or cheap cuts of liver braised in onions with big potatoes and pots of tripe with milky sauce or plates of chunky cheap homemade soup. We ate leeks, mushrooms, turnip and a whole range of whatever vegetables were in season and didn’t really know any different. Sweets and eating between meals wasn’t possible as we didn’t have the money for that kind of luxury.

 

Back then kids didn’t have food allergies, and I didn’t know anyone who refused to eat greens!

 

I have just realised that how we ate is now the diet of the middle classes, the very diet we moaned about and vowed to change the minute we were old enough to earn our own money and buy our own food. We ached for deep fried fish and chips, which was a very expensive treat, usually only allowed if someone had died and there was no time to cook! It was pure emergency food NEVER every day consumed convenience food as it is now.

 

I recently discussed this with the US documentary maker Morgan Spurlock (he of Supersize Me film) who was really interested to hear this as he is making another food based documentary. It seems the poverty diet of the 60s was so healthy and yet we kids couldn’t wait to escape it!

 

Who here who reached young adult hood in the late 70s immediately started gobbling down Indian take aways and fried crispy pancakes with their own hard earned wages? Anything to escape the dire situation of ‘potted heid’ (cheap meat cuts in jelly) and horrible plates of corned beef and mash! I know I did- and that’s when I started gaining the weight that I would fight for the rest of my life to lose.

 

I didn’t know then that cheap cuts of meat braised with seasonal vegetables was the best diet in the world for me.

 

It stuns me when I meet people whose kids won’t eat a vegetable or even try fresh fish- Ashley my daughter has always had a great varied range of fish and vegetables in her diet and is also amazed when friends of hers have never eaten asparagus or savoy cabbage!

 

There has been medical evidence that kids today eat way too much white pasta as parents know kids love something basically tasteless and squishy will go down well, yet too much white pasta isn’t good for the colon and has links to bowel cancer as lack of fibre is something we all know about. White pasta has no fibre, we can swap it occasionally for potato skins or brown wholemeal pasta!

 

Unfortunately the previous generation of men and women who passed down hearty food recipes, like homemade soup and liver and onion casseroles are no longer with us or have gave up trying- and we now have millions of children who have never tasted oatcakes or lentil soup or turnip mash and broad beans and thats a shame.

 

I do understand that for the poorer people in our society that it’s cheaper to buy a big bag of frozen burgers and sausage rolls from Iceland than to start chopping and peeling turnip or getting a pot of soup full of split peas and barley on the go, as some of them have never tasted it, so why should they cook it?  Yet it is actually cheaper to eat vegetables than frozen convenience food, it just takes a bit of know how.

 

I wish that the older people in our community’s could get together with the younger generation at community halls and have cooking lessons and share the knowledge of people who knew how to cook good healthy food on a tight budget.

 

I know it’s a utopian idea but if pensioner Mary Berry can get the UK baking again with her TV show surely and older person on TV can get generations of people learning how to use pulses and cheap cuts of meat? We need to teach kids today that a meal doesn’t come in a box and maybe bring the heart disease and obese levels down?

 

I am now back to my old diet of bits of meat, fish, heaps of vegetables and no sweet treats or eating between meals and am losing weight and feeling good. Who knew my poverty diet was the one thing that would crack my overweight issues?

 

If you have any diet, help and advice or like me pretending to be a life coach occasionally follow me on Twitter @janeygodley


Comment (1)


Fri, Feb 17th - 11:31AM

Don’t Look Back

The last month has been pretty freezing here in UK and it’s a weird one when I keep explaining that “Yes, London can be colder than Scotland” people assume Scotland is the coldest place on earth and other people think “SHUT UP TALKING ABOUT THE WEATHER WHAT AGE ARE YOU OLD LADY?”

 

No longer discussing weather, let’s talk about my doctor who interrupts everything you say with “mmm really?” before you have finished a sentence. It means I end up talking really fast and get my symptoms in before she goes “Mmm really?” and pisses me off...there is nothing worse than a sympathetic nodder and interrupter although worse is the people who say what you are saying at same time.

 

My hairdresser used to do that till I changed and went to someone who didn’t try and finish my sentences off for me by using the same obvious words as me- for example I would say to her “so yeah sometimes it’s hard to blow dry my hair on my own as its (she would chime in with me) ‘hard to reach round the back” then for the rest of the day she would say the end of my sentences with me.

 

Sometimes I would lure her into a false sense of security and then SWITCH what I was going to say to fuck her up – like I would say “So it’s nice staying so close to town as you can just WA... (She would get ready to chime in ‘just walk in’) but I would switch it to “Just watch people catch the bus” and that would throw her off and she would stare angrily at me in the mirror. It became a game tying to get her to believe I was going to say some well-worn cliché then fuck it totally up and leave her mumbling.

 

In the end she gave me a particularly angry geometric cut when I asked for a trim and we parted ways- I still see her through her shop window nodding and finishing peoples words off for them like a greedy word gobbler. I don’t like her anymore. My new hairdresser doesn’t say anything and does my hair as I expect and has never tried to finish off my sentences, but she does sing Adele loudly and badly.

 

I don’t mind people who voice an opinion, like the man from the travel insurance wing of the motoring company AA who called me about a quote I racked up on their online site. He asked why I never bought the quote they offered and I explained “Too expensive” he asked where else I had looked and I gave him a price a website offered me, he asked “which company offered you that?” I read out the name and website of that company and he said “no wonder it’s cheap, I have never heard of them, do they exist?”

 

I was quiet when he said that and I asked him “have you ever heard of me?” he replied “No” to which I said “Then how do you know I can pay for the quote...do I exist?”

I suppose getting existential with an insurance quote man isn’t funny, but he annoyed me.

I need to stop getting easily annoyed at stuff.

 

So here we are almost halfway through February and I am off to Boston Massachusetts for the WOMEN IN COMEDY FESTIVAL with my pal Shirley and then off to NEW ZEALAND COMEDY FESTIVAL with Ashley!

Meanwhile here is some local news.

 

Soon I will be going back to The Calton to donate a painting I created called St Thenew, she was St Mungo’s mother and drowned in the Clyde. Am sure you may recognise the parallels with me anyway Thenew housing next to my old pub is being officially opened and they requested the painting and that I do the honours of opening the offices. I am so touched and I still love The Calton- here is a wee column I wrote about it in 2007.

 

In GLASGOW'S east end there is a small area called the Calton. It has been included on many political agendas due to the level of poverty and drug abuse that is prevalent there. News reports of the decaying housing and devastating health issues have prompted promises of regeneration from all parties.

Yet people don't know how positively human and wonderful the place actually is. The history that surrounds the area is inspiring, and some of those fist-banging politicians would do well to recognise this.

 

I lived in the area, which sits snugly between Glasgow Green and the Gallowgate, for more than 15 years, and loved the place.

My daughter was born and raised in the Calton and, despite having lived most of her adult life in the fashionable west end of the city, she is intensely proud of her east-end roots.

The hard-working women of the Calton were a core influence for me. They set up drug support groups and childcare play schemes throughout the year.

 

I was in awe of them and they welcomed me in with open arms to their community when I became a mother.

I renamed our local pub The Weavers Inn after I had investigated the history of the district.

Just off the main London Road is an ancient graveyard. The gates are old and cranky, the trees are overgrown and the place is in a state of disrepair.

Many of the headstones are scrawled with graffiti or have been knocked over.

But the most important thing about the graveyard is that the Calton Weavers who fought and died for better wages are buried there.

 

On 30 June, 1787, a meeting of the weavers was held on Glasgow Green. Their wages had dropped because of the increased importing of cheaper textiles from abroad and most of the workers decided to strike, although some weavers accepted the lower wages and carried on working.

 

This was a desperate situation for many of the people. To be without employment and wages resulted in them being evicted from their homes and seeing their families go hungry. Yet the striking weavers stood strong and took on the might of the authorities.

The dispute eventually came to a head on 3 September, 1787: violence erupted after the strikers tried to seize materials from the weavers who had carried on working despite the low wages.

The military were called in and a detachment of the 39th Regiment of Foot opened fire on the demonstrators.

The strike was broken.

Six of the men killed at the scene were considered martyrs and some of them were buried in the Calton Cemetery. The families of the men were so poor that they could not afford a headstone, although a century later a memorial was raised to commemorate their actions.

A group of local people are currently fighting to preserve the graveyard, to cherish the memory of the martyrs and also to educate the local youngsters in their historical roots.

But there are also plans by Glasgow City Council for parts of the Calton to change their postcode to the swanky city centre G1 code, to attract more lucrative investments.

 

The Calton doesn't need a facelift or postcode change, it needs support. Government officials and politicians should be investing in local housing and enriching the lives of the people who live in the Calton, instead of pouring money into the upmarket private housing expansions that skirt the fashionable side of the Glasgow Green.

 

The people of the Calton should value their rich socialist history. Caltonians need to recognise that some ground-breaking and talented people came from their streets; people such as the poet and songwriter Matt McGinn; the rock band Gun, who toured with the Rolling Stones, and Davie Bryce, who set up the innovative drug support group, Calton Athletic, to name but a few.

 

We need people to stop pointing the finger at what went wrong in the Calton and remember the people who fought for a better life there and died for that very privilege.

The very roots of Scottish socialism were nurtured in the streets where my daughter was born and that will stay with her for life.

If only those Calton Weavers were up for election again I know who I would vote for.

 

If you have any diet, help and advice or like me pretending to be a life coach occasionally follow me on Twitter @janeygodley


Comment (0)


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