Can you remember when you started to get really hacked off with the constant bombardment that if ‘If we don’t address this soon then our children will be the most obese in Europe by next Wednesday? Honestly, haven’t parents got enough on their plate without having to worry about where the next burger is coming from?

However, these harbingers of fatty doom do have a point. Many times I catch the bus home from work which stops outside a very fine hostelry by the name of ‘Hogan’s, and let me see right off the bat that no money, or any Carlsberg whatsoever changed hands for that little promotion.

Anyway, many a time I have stood at said bus stop and watched the comings of goings of people as they go about their business, and in my mind I have begun to play this little game where I place them into three distance categories. Obese’ ‘Overweight’ and ‘Out of Condition’.

Now this is an interesting study that I would encourage all parents to partake in the next time you find yourself waiting six hours for a bus, the delayed tram or train if the employees stop striking for a tax rebate! By the way, isn’t now fantastic when you can look up and see the little amber electronic signs at the bus stops that tells you that your bus will be along in five or six minutes. Of course they have the same thing on the Luas platforms in Dublin, though the last time I looked at the sign it told me that the next Luas bound for the ‘Point’ would be along at approximately the twenty ninth of October!

Anyway I digress. The point is, once you play the aforementioned game in your head, it soon becomes apparent that almost everyone who crosses you path or indeed your line of vision falls into one of those three categories, and to be honest it makes you think.  But here’s the thing. With a little exercise and a slight moderation of our diet, none of which has to be too drastic, we could all enjoy a huge improvement to our physical health as well as having the added benefit of helping us look good for the beach once the three days of summer arrive. How could any sensible person disagree?

However no amount of sensible eating can rid you of curvature of the spine. Worn discs and a lifetime of spinal stenosis, and that’s even before I get to sloping shoulders. If you haven’t by now cottoned on to where this is going then here it is.

‘Schoolbags!’

Yes indeed, and I’m deadly serious. Who would have thought that the great and our good young students would be struck down in their carefree schooldays by the sheer weight of their own homework!!  If these bags get much heavier the schools will soon be hiring out the children to mountain climbing expeditions! You know a few months ago my daughter asked me to chuck her schoolbag into the car for her as she ran back to her room to fetch her coat. This kind act, which any proud father would do, resulted in a triple hernia from which I am still recovering. And now with school kids returning after six weeks of physical therapy, also known as the summer holidays, you can watch these twelve to sixteen year old Sherpas carrying the weight equivalent to a wilder beast over their young and still developing shoulders.

Concerned, I wrote a letter to my daughter’s school Principal on this very issue, in which I made the insanely common sense idea that children, particularly young girls, be allowed to use a trolley to ferry about the square concrete paving slabs that masquerade as text books. This wasn’t possible, came the non-too polite response, which was the school’s way of politely telling me to fuck off. Apparently the noise that would ensue throughout the corridors of the school might disturb other school children therein who were probably in the middle of extensive physiotherapy to ease away their neck pain?? So what’s to be done I asked myself. And then I had a brain wave to write to the Minister for Education.

‘What about tablet’s then?’ I wrote back to her assuming that schools were going all hi-tech nowadays, and that somehow common sense must win the day in the fight against my daughter’s pending spinal stenosis. The reply left me in no doubt the government was indeed every bit as modern as I had hoped.

‘Dear Parent, Thank for your letter in relation to tablets. Please rest assured that all times the government insists that its schools retain a full cabinet of pain killers!’

 Laters.

 5th September 2016