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Gents are in need of a major cover-up

PUBLISHED: 11:06 14 August 2009 | UPDATED: 11:31 06 July 2010

A HARD-PRESSED hotel just outside our village has been desperately trying to drum up passing trade as the recession crunches their clientele.

Every day, new offers are chalked on the A-board seeking to entice customers.

A HARD-PRESSED hotel just outside our village has been desperately trying to drum up passing trade as the recession crunches their clientele.

Every day, new offers are chalked on the A-board seeking to entice customers. 'Serving lunch now.” “You don't have to sleep here to eat here.” “£6.95 Sunday carvery.”

They are trying so hard with special promotions, events and publicity to ride the tough times and keep afloat.

On Sunday lunchtime, their good work was threatened by an unfortunately typical English spectacle blighting their attractive frontage.

A sight so grotesque passing trade would turn round and run to the next pub or cafe.

As we drove past, the sight prompted an explosion of disgust in the back of the car from my boys.

“Urrrgh. Look at that. It's absolutely disgusting. Yuk, yuk, yuk”

Perched on a picnic bench on the lush green lawn outside the hotel was an extremely overweight man in his 50s. My boys were making pretend-to-be-sick noises in the back seat because he was had taken his top off and was sitting basking in the sunshine, his flab laid out for all to see.

Hardly an appetizer for a carvery. He had to have been more than 20 stone with an ample pair of “moobies”, as my boys call “man boobs”, and a blubbery concertina flopping over his trousers like a bulbous apron.

Even from a distance I felt bilious. Would anyone want to tuck into a Sunday lunch next to that?

He and his wife, obviously oblivious to her husband's bad manners, were the only customers outside and, judging by the reaction of my family, were likely to be until he put his shirt back on at least.

The sight would have put me off my food - it was he worst PR I could think of for those poor hotel owners that day.

The next day, the second reserve in charge of running the country this summer, Peter Mandleson, was photographed bare-chested on holiday. Enough. What makes men want to take their tops off to march around “treating' us all to too much flesh, flab and bodily hair.

It's gross. Shirtless men should be outlawed. There should be a public decency law against men taking their tops off in public places, except, if they must, on the beach.

It's vulgar for a start. Even the most toned body looks better covered up in public. But it's never the most toned bodies put on display - it's always the most overweight and saggy who manage to find nasty shorts to fit, a vest, if we're lucky, and trainers or, anther heinous crime against style, sandals, with or without socks.

Middle-aged men look good in summer in one outfit alone. It's so simple, they don't have to think but 99 per cent of men insist on looking horrendous in the sun.

All they need is a long sleeved shirt with the sleeves rolled up - or a polo shirt if they must wear short sleeves - chinos or long shorts with deck shoes. Feet of males over 40 who don't do pedicures should always be covered.

And it's not just the men in their summer strip offs that ruffle our sensibilities. Women too take all leave of their senses to chuck off their clothes and march around looking hideous in next to nothing in the name of keeping cool.

Tiny shorts, vests with mucky bra-straps on display, the more flesh exposed the better. Ok on the beach but on the high street or in the supermarket?

I've spent the week wondering if the management of that hotel asked the man to replace his shirt - as they should have done - or tolerated his selfish exhibitionism at the expense of an empty till.

Shirts on, guys. In the name of public decency and small businesses survival.

One topic has obssessed mothers of young children for weeks - to give or not to give Tamiflu.

Children are most are risk from the disease and parents need peace of mind that treatment is at hand.

The front line drug Tamiflu - the Holy Grail to fight it, according to medics - is now said to do more harm than good to children.

So where does this leave a distraught mother desperate to relieve symptoms of a sick child?

How do we know what is true?

These “latest revelations” by scientists aren't remotely helpful to parents facing the choice of whether to administer the drug.

All we want to know is what is best for our child not be in the middle of doctors and scientists' tit for tat posturing.

It feels like MMR all over again.

A friend met a surgeon on holiday who reckoned he could help solve young adult obesity by sharing his work with teenagers.

His days are spent in the operating theatre, rediscovering the genitals of grossly and morbidly obese men. Men who haven't seen their bits for years and, for some, have lost them under stones of sealed fat and skin.

Revolting, I know and sorry to put you off your breakfast, but fact. And that's his job.

He said if he could take photos of his patients into schools and show teenagers the effects of stuffing junk food into them every day, they would soon be put off.

Interestingly, so revolted he is by the effects of over-eating and the sights he sees, he lives on a strict diet of protein and fresh vegetables and fruit avoiding refined carbohydrates at all costs.

And, as well as slim and fit, my friend said he looked at least 10 years younger than his 40 years. As well as piling on the pounds, eating rubbish has a terrible ageing effect.

His idea of taking photos of his work into schools is far more likely to have an effect on Britain's obesity crisis than the soppy lip service move this week to cut the size of chocolate bars.

Some people you meet in life you never forget.

They pop up from time to time in your memory with fond thoughts, remembering their kindness or special words they might have said, or just their demeanour or good work.

You might not have known them well but their innate goodness made an impression that lasted a lifetime, faces and personalities never forgotten.

Memories of two such people revived recently when I heard they had passed away.

The first was an old schoolfriend's mother. Kind and gentle were the two words that always sprang to mind whenever I saw her in my teenage years or thought about her since.

She had one of those faces that you knew you'd be safe with, confident she was understanding and caring.

My friend wrote to me: “We will miss her desperately but will continue to live as she has taught us and honour her in everything we do,” surely the best legacy any mother can leave her children.

The other was former Denes Oval groundsman Henry Smith, a figure who loomed large in my young years, and one of the most cheerful men I've ever met.

Whenever I think of the Denes Oval - or visit with my son's team - I think of Henry on his bicycle or in his hut, handing out the putting balls and clubs, always smiling, always positive.

I'd even told my cricket-mad sons about him and how finally, after a lifetime of not really being bothered with cricket until they discovered their passion, I can now appreciate all the time and effort put into a pitch and wicket.

They could finally put a face to his name by his photo in last week's Journal - hardly looking much older than he did 30 years ago.

They took almost as much joy as I did from reading that he was still riding his beloved bike up until the start of this year. He was 89.

Both are being mourned personally by their grieving families but remembered fondly by so very many others.

Funny how last week Ronnie Biggs was on his very last legs last week unable to speak, eat or move and not expected to last the week.

Then, once freed, he miraculously found the strength to get out of bed to celebrate his 80th birthday - and the 46th anniversary of the Great Train Robbery - and freedom with his family.

His son, who talks about his father like he's a saint, is even speaking about having him home for Christmas.

The whole Biggs' saga stinks. He has shown no remorse for his crime, cocks a snook at the law and authority and even found the energy to laugh at Britain's cushy jails since he came back to the UK for free health treatment when his money ran out in Brazil.

Surrounded by cards from well-wishers in hospital, he's lapping up celebrity status and is beginning to look like he's got a few more years of the good life left in him.

He'll probably be running the London Marathon next year in a comedy costume of pyjamas with arrows on them sticking his fingers up to the system he's taken the mickey out of for decades.

Bets are on for which university will be the first to launch a degree in Michael Jacksonology.

And what a study that would be.

Oliver child actor Mark Lester claims he gave his friend “a gift' of his sperm which turned out to create daughter Paris. A bottle of aftershave or a nice watch is a gift. But this is the world of Michael Jackson.

Could his story get any weirder? Of course. Someone will pop up next to claim paternity of Bubbles the Chimp.

Could there be a duller place than an office full of women in sensible shoes?

Inexplicably, the Trade Union Congress, supposed to stand up for the rights of the working men and women, have got time in an era when droves are losing their jobs, people working in terrible conditions under threat of redundancy, earning pitiful unequal salaries to campaign against the pressing issue of high heels.

Laughably, it wants women to wear 'sensible shoes' no more than an inch high to avoid injuries or long term foot and back problems.

It should butt out.

I would never go to work in flat shoes. Heels give confidence, authority and posture. Flat shoes and work clothes look dumpy and frumpy and feel sluggish.

They're an essential part of a woman's working wardrobe and there's an army of women prepared to show TUC bosses exactly what they're prepared to do with their spike heels to keep them.


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