Two waitresses in New York are claiming that they were fired for being "too fat" - one clocked in at a very respectable 9st 9lb. Apparently, they had to submit to the indignity of having their weight recorded and fed into a computer programme that compared size of waitresses at other restaurants in the city. When one woman refused, she was marched into the manager's office and ordered to stand on the scales he kept there!
The women (who were also asked to wear tight clothes) are now claiming £8m in damages, for breach of contract, defamation and fraud. Most of us want nothing more from serving staff, male or female, than a sunny and helpful disposition, a knowledge of the menu and the special of the day, and a sixth sense about when we might need more wine, bread or water. The size of a waiter's bum has rarely interested me, except for one occasion when I ate supper in the Roman banqueting themed restaurant in Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and was served by a man wearing a mini toga. When my fellow diner, the art dealer Jay Jopling, took a photo of the chap from a low level, we were practically evicted for sexual harassment. No danger of any weigh-ins there!
Does size matter? You could argue that by banning catwalk models whose body mass index (BMI) is less than a certain ratio, Madrid's mayor has imposed another kind of ludicrous criteria. After all, there are some women who will be thin no matter what they eat, and others who will stick their fingers down their throat in order to get exactly the same end result. I think that Lily Cole looks like a miserable goldfish, a strange looking little girl with legs like sticks, a dopey vacant expression and a sulky mouth. I doubt she sells as many clothes as fashion editors would like to think. Banning people of any size, fat or thin, doesn't really achieve much in the long run. Diners can choose other restaurants where the staff are well-rounded and friendly (that's not to say thin ones aren't just as efficient) and most women are intelligent enough to realise that the clothes on the stick insects in Vogue will look miles better on a size 14, ie, my size, which is normal.
The people I feel sorry for are not the too-skinny models or the too-fat waitresses but the sad souls who run businesses and think that all this matters, and the lost souls who sign up to the size-0 mantra. Look at Victoria Beckham - she resembles a Thunderbirds puppet with a giant head, stuck on breasts and prominent collar bones - about as sexy and feminine as a pipe-cleaner. Anyone who puts girls on a catwalk looking like prisoners on hunger strike will not really be commercially successful in the long run - ordinary women will be repulsed by the sick vision being peddled. As for sexy waitresses - it's hard enough finding anyone who wants to serve these days, let alone a girl willing to submit to a daily weigh-in.
A bigger issue for women to get steamed up about might be the fact that Jonathan Ross is paid £18m by the BBC (ie by us, the licence-fee funders) over three years, a salary that his bosses have the cheek to call "a good investment". Barbara Windsor, one of the highest paid women on the BBC, receives a paltry £360,000 in comparison - I know which of the two I would call "a good investment". No one is worth £18m. And, quite frankly, if Ross left the BBC screens and radio channels, and they played repeats of Only Fools and Horses and Casualty, the ratings would not be very different. The BBC wants a licence fee increase of £50 a year by 2013. It has no chance at all of wringing that out of Tessa Jowell without demonstrating that it is willing to stop paying silly salaries.
Mirren serves Her Majesty well, but the film fails to condemn all that ridiculous mourning
Helen Mirren is sensational as the Queen in Stephen Frear's thoughtful new film about the events in the week of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Some have said that the film is too sympathetic to Her Majesty, and that the Queen was jealous of the wayward Diana's popularity. The film charts an extraordinary moment when mass grieving meant that the Palace was totally wrong-footed and had no idea of how to behave. In this situation, the new Prime Minister, Tony Blair, seizes the moment and manages to steer the Queen into coming down to London from Balmoral and meeting the crowds. Mirren does something extraordinary in making us feel sympathy for this elderly woman suddenly adrift in an unexpected sequence of events, who belatedly realises that if she is not careful the monarchy will lose any credibility it has. I am a republican, but I applaud Mirren's achievement - my only problem is that the film is so carefully non-judgemental, it fails to even imply that the public's reaction to Diana's death was ludicrously out of proportion.
Selling God: Don't ask me to take Jesus by the glass
A new ad campaign running on the website myspace.com is called "Is This Jesus?" and features an image of a frothy beer glass along with the slogan "where will you find him?" The idea, say its creators, is to remind us about the spiritual side of the festive season. But if a grilled sandwich on which someone claims they can see the face of the Virgin Mary sells for £15,000 on eBay, what is the likelihood of a frothy pint glass getting more people into church? Very small, I would have thought. It's far more likely to spark off the sale of more dodgy religious " artefacts" to the gullible via the internet. What's wrong with the old-fashioned idea of the church going out and talking to people in the pub or the wine bar? There's nothing better than human interaction if you want to get a point across.
Tarrant tales: The riverbank is the best place to leave a husband
Chris Tarrant is very publicly in the 'maison de chien'. The radio and television presenter's marital woes became public after a member of his family recently rescued him from a local wine bar where, after a few drinks, he allegedly "snogged" a bimbo, and the story appeared in a tabloid. His other main crime seems to be a profound love of fishing, which takes him away from his wife on trips lasting at least a week. Surely any hobby that removes partners for a week at a time, and only involves worms, flies and cane rods, is fabulous. I'd be more worried if Chris collected stamps, bred race horses or was even remotely interested in his appearance - he's a fashion-free zone and colour blind.Reuse content