Editor-At-Large: My recipe for health – and it's free


How can something as fundamental as providing children with lunch be a political issue? Michael Gove has decided to recruit the founders of Leon, a restaurant chain, to produce a report into school meals. Talk about reinventing the wheel. Education ministers have such giant egos they imagine that only they will come up with a miracle solution that all previous incumbents in the job have failed to spot. Why will these Leon fellows do any better than Jamie Oliver, who, back in 2008, led a passionate campaign to ban turkey twizzlers and other mucky fast foods, set up schemes to train staff to cook as opposed to reheat food, and who encouraged Labour to set minimum nutritional standards?

The Education Secretary has set about unpicking everything that Jamie cared about – in the name of "freedom of choice". He's allowed academies and free schools to opt out of these standards, and now he's commissioned an expensive inquiry into the bleeding obvious.

The same mentality has resulted in one health minister after another ordering celebrities and restaurateurs to "investigate" why hospital food is so appalling. From Prue Leith to Loyd Grossman, they've all tried and failed to make any difference. How to provide decent school meals could be sketched on the back of an envelope. Reducing the number of fat kids isn't rocket science either. The over-hyped notion of choice – as if it's a human right even eight-year-olds are entitled to exercise – has caused a huge amount of harm.

Here's the JSP solution. Lock kids into school premises at lunchtime. Ban packed lunches and takeaways. All parents or guardians must sign a contract with headteachers agreeing that their kids will eat school meals at lunchtime or expect to be punished. Train local people to cook the meals, aided by the local catering college staff. Produce the menus as a joint project between parents, pupils and kitchen staff, meeting existing nutritional guidelines. Encourage pupils to study cooking for GSCE, and schedule them to help cook, clear up, and serve in school canteens, so they learn social skills.

Who knows, some might even go on to work in the hospitality industry which is crying out for staff. Hold cooking classes for mums in the evenings. Mr Gove, you can have those ideas for nothing: don't waste money on a pointless exercise.

Tracey's code

Ascot, Wimbledon, another week, another dress code. Tracey Emin celebrated her 49th birthday last week, and her pal restaurateur Richard Caring kindly lent his swankiest club, Annabel's in Berkeley Square, for the celebrations. Attached to the hand-written invitation from Tracey were detailed instructions issued by the club, announcing that men were not allowed to wear leather or suede clothing. Britain's most distinguished artist, the late Francis Bacon, would have been shown the door as he always wore a black leather jacket.

Deck shoes and cowboy boots were also banned. Shirts have to be tucked into trousers. Does Sir Philip Green obey this cruel diktat? A pal of Richard's, he generally wears a flapping shirt to obliterate his expanding midriff. Women were told "no exposed undergarments", a rule that Tracey has flouted on numerous occasions. Party guest Nancy Dell'Olio managed to keep her bra straps hidden for once. Female guests were not allowed to wear "office trousers/suits", whatever they may be.

First, I thought the list was a practical joke, devised by Tracey. Then, I realised it was completely serious. Would her more outrageous friends comply? Jake and Dinos Chapman were not there, but Pam Hogg wore a flashy catsuit which survived the taste police. I wore a Crimplene and lurex Seventies frock bought in Australia for £20. The staff were extremely pleasant, and it was a fun evening. Double standards were in force: men were able to wear "office/trouser suits", as I noticed when I had a rant at Jeremy Hunt for allowing McDonald's to sponsor the Olympics.

Modest Mike

Forget Harold Pinter: Mike Leigh's Abigail's Party is one of the most important British plays of the past 50 years. Written in 1977, his forensic take on the upwardly mobile in suburban Romford couldn't be more relevant today – the grisly (and hugely popular) TOWIE has spawned a whole new generation of Beverly clones.

I remember exactly what happened the night I settled down to watch the BBC broadcast in November 1977. I felt physically sick, got up and watched the rest of the play through my hands from behind the sofa, unable to believe my ears. I was convinced that Mike Leigh had spied on my parents' house in Perivale and somehow met my sister. Does any other play sum up the British and their snobbish cruelty to each other so well?

Watching the revival at Wyndham's Theatre, I still felt queasy. My friend Glen is such an Abigail fan he even went to see a recent production at the Norwegian National Theatre in Oslo. Mike Leigh is reputed to have said: "I never imagined it would be performed in the birthplace of Ibsen." Don't be modest, Mike. During the past year, I've been bored to tears by three out of four nights in the theatre. Abigail's Party leaves you wanting more: I could have sat through another hour of Beverly.

Solid gold

James Bond is one of the most perennially stylish men on the planet, and at the Barbican this cultural icon is celebrated in a major show, Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style. I can't remember such a fun exhibition, mainly because the curators have really entered into the spirit of the enterprise. The slightly oppressive Barbican is a building that could easily have featured in a Bond movie: I always expect Rosa Klebb to leap out and spear me with her evil flick-knife shoes, which are on display here.

The level of craftsmanship and attention to detail on show is extraordinary, and Ken Adam's visionary drawings are worth the trip alone. The show is laid out as a series of rooms devoted to Bond themes – Gold, Casino, M's Office, Q Branch, villains and enigmas, and, down in the Pit, a model of Ice Palace, with footage of the most expensive ski jump in movie history. Gold features a life-sized re-creation of Shirley Eaton lying dead on the circular bed.

Forget Bond's budgie-smuggler swimming trunks, it's the gadgets that will draw the crowds. My favourites? Scaramanga's golden gun, from The Man with the Golden Gun, made from a table lighter and with a cufflink as the trigger. The Hasselblad Gun and detonating cigarette packet from Licence to Kill, and Oddjob's deadly bowler hat from Goldfinger, which was mistakenly given to a fan and eventually bought back by the film company at a Christie's auction in 1998, for £62,000. No wonder they have hung on to so many props: what a testament to British ingenuity.

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