So I wrote a letter to our Headteacher…

NCMP Scan of original letter censored… and I’m very pleased to say that he replied. He expressed his concern about the letter I’d received. There will be a note in the school newsletter next week to parents on the topic and he is going to raise it with the Local Authorities at the next Headteachers Forum.

The letter I wrote to him is below, a tiny bit anonymised. I’ve forwarded this on to my MP Vince Cable and the contact in the Obesity Team at Public Health England that Civic Centre lady gave me. I wonder if I’ll hear back from them? Continue reading

Irresponsible, ill-advised, ill-supported and inflammatory – the Government’s approach to a healthy child

Finding some answers

As soon as I was able, I called the number on the letter which signed off ‘from the School Nursing Service’.

I was put through to a school nurse, albeit not the one attached to my child’s school and I asked her why I had been sent a letter informing me that my child is ‘obese’. And I asked where I could get some advice for what exactly to do about it since the links in the letter gave me nothing specific at all about managing the weight of an obese four year old.

She explained to me that although the letter was signed off from the School Nursing Service, they had not sent it. It came from the Richmond Public Health. The nurses had taken part in the National Child Measurement Programme – their role had been to weigh and measure the children and submit the data.

This was the first year that the government had decided to send automated letters to the parents.

But she could not give me any advice as she had no information to give me – she couldn’t tell me what weight he should be, what portion size I should serve or anything. She didn’t know how the Government had arrived at the conclusion about my child – how they calculated BMI.

I was baffled! The number I was given in the letter for ‘free local support’ could not offer me any. Continue reading

How many calories should a four year old have?

I’ve learned a lot, since last week, about the National Child Measurement Programme and childhood weight issues.

“We’ve had a letter back from school about our son,” said Tony, after the children had gone to bed and I had a cup of tea in my hand. He picked his moment as best he could. “It says that he is overweight.”

I reacted as he knew I would. I was very upset. We’re not perfect parents. They have snacks. But I don’t think we’re notably bad with the things we let them eat. I’m keen on healthy eating. And we actively encourage physical activity, getting out on our bikes at the weekend. The kids both go to physical activity clubs.

I looked at the letter. It didn’t just say my child was overweight. It said my four year old boy was “very overweight for their age, sex and height”. It was like a smack in the face.

It went on to say “Being very overweight can lead to health problems for your child, such as high blood pressure, early signs of type 2 diabetes and low self-confidence. But you and your child can make simple changes to be more active and eat more healthily. As a first step please call us on xxxx”. Continue reading

So happy for the last three days, I didn’t have time to post

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So a quick recap:

Day Seven of #100HappyDays: Olly and Rab Reunited

Thursday 23rd Jan – Jac came to visit. I’ve not seen her for five years. How that happened I’m not sure but it’s not exactly helped by the fact she lives 8 hours away in Dubai. Here’s a fabulous timelapse of Dubai. It looks incredible. It is hard to believe – the sheer determination of people to make the uninhabitable inhabitable. You can see Jac’s apartment if you know what you’re looking for.

Five years without sight of each other and you’d never have known it. Back in the day, in Singapore, we nicknamed ourselves Olly Reed and Rab C Nesbitt. She’s Scottish and we were both lushes. Ahem. Just back then of course…. So, being happy on Day Seven was about being reunited with Jac and introducing her to Rudi, who she’d never met.

Day Eight: Ladies Who Lunch

Friday 24th. Pretty much every day of leave from work that I take is timed to be with the children on a school holiday. But on Friday I took the time to just hang out with Jac. We took the kids to school, ran home afterwards through Bushy Park, I spent a bit of time trying to track down someone in the public health department in Richmond – more of that later – then we went shopping, had a few wines over lunch, picked up Mia and Rudi again and then hung out at home. Jac’s flight saw her off in a taxi by 7pm. There were many tears that night. Only Tony was immune and that was mainly in an attempt to keep order. For Day Eight being happy was having a proper catch up with Jac. Let’s hope we do it sooner than five years next time.

Day Nine: Buxom Winged Sphinxes and Cleopatra’s Needle

Saturday 25th. Every year for Tony’s birthday we go to Chinatown for Dim Sum. Given it’s at the end of January, it coincides with Chinese New Year – sometimes too closely for comfort although that’s another story. Next weekend is CNY so we went today to avoid the festival crush with two small children. Lovely Calvin and Steph joined us. Mia’s studying Egypt at school at the moment so we walked up to Cleopatra’s Needle before lunch. I read up the history first. A couple of things stood out from my brief research: a bombing raid in the war damaged the monument and it was never repaired, as a memorial. But this was the first world war – I guess I knew that had happened, but it hadn’t really sunk in before that the UK was bombed in that war. Secondly, there was a time capsule buried beneath the obilisk when it was erected in 1878. The first thing that Wikipedia lists as contents of the capsule is “A set of 12 photographs of the best looking English women of the day”. Somebody proposed that, and others debated it and then it was decided that 12 photos of the best looking women was an important thing to include. Remarkable.

Being happy on Day Nine was about hanging out with the children, trying to bring history to life and repeating a loving birthday ritual for Tony with a great meal at the Golden Pagoda on Macclesfield Street.

Who is behind 100 happy days?

Photo by Crick Smith

Photo by Crick Smith

Today a few things made me happy – there’s not often just one thing luckily.

My beautiful children waking up: from sleepy bundle to launching into stream of consciousness updates in seconds. Virtuous aches from running and yoga yesterday. Breakfast with a colleague. Catching up with old friends and tying it into a political debate this evening. Sitting by the fireside in the National Liberal Club with a glass of wine.

But you’ll have to imagine it. I didn’t take a photo – just borrowed this one from Crick Smith.

I hope that works for Dmitrijs Golubnicijs, the only name I can find when searching for who is behind 100 happy days. What is he doing with all the emails he gets?



Having killed 20 or so tropical fish last year (despite trying very hard not to) we’ve resigned ourselves to not having pets. But just before Christmas I decided to make a sourdough starter.

It’s much like a pet: you need to feed it. But it’s pretty low maintenance. Not particularly cuddly or responsive, but then neither were the fish. And it’s outlived the fish so far too. Continue reading