Thursday, September 28, 2006

It's not my fault I'm fat, doctor, it's my heritage.

Did anyone see David Tennant on that researching your ancestors programme? Being from Northern Ireland I found the whole thing quite moving really. Mr. Tennant was obviously disconcerted by his heritage, the trouble is around here heritage is likely to jump up and bite you on the bum.

In Northern Ireland you have to be one thing or the other, a neutral position is not accepted. Having lived in England for 17 years I found it all very depressing to come back to, the fact that attitudes haven't changed at all. The Good Friday agreement has reduced the violence but hearts and minds have not changed one iota.

Just to give an illustration, there is a big problem with obesity around here, and being Northern Ireland there is a sectarian aspect to this problem. The theory I have heard proposed by a (protestant) consultant physician is that protestants have a race memory that starvation was a catholic problem from the famine days and that therefore being fat just confirms your protestantism to the world. Sort of floored me, that one.

In our house we stick our heads in the sand and avoid the 'little local difficulty' by making sure we studiously avoid local TV, radio and news media. Like many other middle-class people here we have completely disengaged from the political process and left the loonies to run the asylum. Makes me feel guilty that. Anyway I would be interested in your views on this one and I, ahem, refute the charge that the whole post was just an excuse to post a picture of Mr. Tennant, oh no.

PS To the Whales...Whalster, you sounded very down on your last couple of blogs and now you've gone!!!! Hope you're OK. Post and let us know, please.


the whales said...

Yay! I'm first. Still here. Just tired. Enjoying reading other people's blogs. Wireless always goes nuts between about 4 and 7pm. I'm guessing it's atmospheric. Or something.

If you're a fan of DT then go and see strugglingauthor's blog. She seems totally obsessed!

Wyndham said...

I thought that Mr Tennant came across as a thoroughly nice chap, if not particularly lightning-sharp up top. But I forgive that in an actor.

Billy said...

What about that beard of his?

I thought the programme was very interesting, not knowing much about NI I felt I found out plenty.

realdoc said...

Whales: great to hear you're still there.

Wyndham: my sister used to manage a theatre and told me that what we docs would call a supra-tentorial deficiency* is very common in actors.
*They're thick

Billy: Not a beard fan usually I stick to 'gaucho' moustaches but it did look rather fetching on Mr. Tennant.

urban chick said...

i can totally understand why your instinct is to disengage with 'local' politics - the northern irish people who i've got to know usually feel the same (hence their reason for not living there!) BUT i wonder whether it would be better for northern irish politics if people like you were engaging more

that said, the most gobsmacking sectarian comment i ever heard of was said to a belfast-born woman who was then teaching in a glasgow high school when one of her pupils said to her 'miss, you stand like a protestant!'

yip, sectarianism is alive and well in scotland too (the joys)

and finally: ooh, david tennant - thank you for that :-)

Tedward's Missing Ear said...

Oooh and Mmmmm David Tenant, now that's what I call a real doc.

The best sectarian joke I heard was one that did the rounds at school:

Q: How do you know ET's a Protestant/Catholic (delete according to persuasion)?
A: Because he looks like one.

I have to confess that it still makes me laugh. Hangs head in shame and shuffles off.

Spinsterella said...

Realdoc, you have very neatly summed up why I will NEVER go back.

It's a fucking awful place.

To be honest, I am somewhat embarrassed by the fact that I know virtually nothing about political machinations there since 1994.

But it's just too depressing. The violence may have ended (up to a point) but sectarianism is becoming more entrenched.

If it wasn't for my parents, i'd never go back.

BEAST said...

I just cant get my head round it at all , so I have nothing of any use to no change there then

the whales said...

I know nothing about Northern Ireland. Instead i'll just offer this:- my mother's irish and my ex-wife's family are all irish. On a trip once (galway) we went for sunday lunch to my ex's grandmother's house. First time for me to meet the grandmother. I want to make a good impression. I am acutely aware of my English accent. But sunday lunch is very nice. She was very welcoming. I cast my eye around the room, looking at the book titles. (It's something i always do.) This one caught my eye:- "Great IRA Escapes, 1914-1944".

Yes, I'd love it (to)...

realdoc said...

Spins it is a fucking awful place isn't it?
We came back because of the schools and houseprices in London but in terms of culture and conversation thank christ for the internet is all I can say.

cello said...

I had heard the obesity/Irish famine thing spun the other way round; those Catholics who survived the famine metabolised food very slowly ie efficiently, and now there is food plenty get fat. Also heard that one used to explain African/American, Papua New Guinean and Hawaiian obesity.

I find that eating everything in olive oil works just as well.

ziggi said...

o balls I was going to say "now that's what I call a real doc" I've been beaten to it, so I'll just say religion and politics - god who needs it . . .

Robert Swipe said...


My mum's side of the family are from Norn Ireland. My most abiding memory of my two visits there was my then 8 year old cousin, who comes from Dalston coming back from the park and asking his mum, "Am I a Catholic or a Proddy?" This was what the other kids had been asking him.

Eight years old.

Sean said...

"What are ye?"


"Errr .. What do you mean?"

"What ARE ye?"

... coin drops, eventually ...

smartarse answer "Oh, I'm an aethiest"

"But are ye a fenian aethiest?"

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