It does seem that the national mood has changed. There does seem to be a huge amount of money being spent in supermarkets, as the world and their partner descended even late at night and early morning in their quest to clear the shelves before anyone else can. This has prompted commentators to record this phenomenon which it seems is particularly in evidence this year, not only in the stores that most people use, but, according to one commentator, even in stores visited by Mr & Mrs Audi Avenue where, although busier than normal, just resulted in a line of well-behaved pleasant people. Elsewhere it seems others were not so ‘nice’ and words were exchanged over the last loaf of bread on display, and this on Saturday, a full four days before Christmas.
One store reported an estimated 300 people waiting for doors to open at 6am on Monday morning and having arrived at a large store myself at 9.00 am (yes, I know, I forgot the dog meal mixer, something I won’t do again at holiday time), the store, as we say, was heaving, with people buying food stacked high on big trolleys. Maybe, I thought, it’s been announced on the news that supplies are being rationed or something, but a very pleasant lady on the till reassured me that this was not the case and she hadn’t seen anything like it before. With all 10 tills opening she told me that there had often been 20 people in the queues; others had demanded to know why the store had to close at midnight on Saturday. The same story has been reported in the media all across the country, most odd group behaviour, it seems. Perhaps it’s an unintended consequence of high street outlets closing or a backlash against online shopping. It is difficult to tell at this stage.
What was, and always is, evident, if you notice these things, is the shall we say, size of many people, which has got to have implications for our national health, let alone the National Health Service. But, as one health professional told me, what do you expect? Convenience food rules, snacks, sugary drinks and what we would call poor food choices, along with, in many cases, virtually no exercise all, contribute to this obesity which is fast becoming an epidemic. And if anyone has the temerity to point this out, they will be accused by the media of wanting a nanny state. Perhaps the media people should then take a turn helping to deal with fall-out from all this, but hey! Who are we to suggest that people may like to take a little care of themselves? Just look how long it took for the public to heed the warnings on smoking and just look at the size of some of our health care staff – no different it seems than the population at large.
But alas, it’s not just us who are suffering the effects of too much food and too little exercise, our pets are suffering too. Looking for the aforesaid dog mixer, I found that I could buy a formulated drink for my dog that tasted apparently like beer or wine so that they could enjoy a festive meal with us. Now I’m all for dogs, I live with one, or at least he thinks I do, but is not this ‘treat’ business going just a little too far? The pet accessory and food market in the UK is worth tens of millions of pounds a year. Add to that the pet health and third-party insurance and you have an industry worth hundreds of millions in the UK alone. It has been reported, and not for the first time, that vets are more than concerned about the number of obese dogs they see. One told me of a young Labrador that weighed over 50 kilos, are you kidding me? No, unfortunately not. It looks as if we are not only killing ourselves but our pets with kindness too.
All a far cry from when the turkey at Christmas was a rare annual treat, along with real mince pies, Christmas pudding with a sixpence in it and, if you were lucky, Christmas cake.
Decorations were often homemade streamers made from gummed paper, and if it wasn’t a real one, the Christmas tree came down from the loft each year. Few would wish to return to those days, but spending enough on food for one or two days that would otherwise be used for a week does really need to be thought about. As for the astronomical amounts spent on pets, when we have people relying on donations from food banks for whatever reason. Should that not be a cause for concern and something to think about? In the USA a survey revealed figures that show that the average dog owner spends about £1000 a year on their dog while cat owners spend a little less.
What is surprising though is that their so-called millennium generation expect to spend more money on their dogs over the course of the dog’s lifetime than they do on their own lifetime healthcare costs. Something to think about for sure …