Matthew Bell: Rant & Rave (18/09/11)

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The Independent Online


A study by architects has found that our beds are too big for our homes. This is because new houses are ludicrously small, as developers cram in too many units per site. It's also because we're trying to recreate posh hotels at home, by buying super-king-sized beds. In theory, big beds are the height of luxury. Robert Maxwell's was so vast he had the whole family in with him at Christmas. And if it means families spending more time with each other, so much the better. The trouble is, it's not just the beds that are bigger: televisions have been putting on a few inches every year, and now 80 per cent of bedrooms has a TV. Our environments, both the buildings we live in and the furniture in them, inform the way we live. The slouchier the sofa, the woollier the mind. I doubt we'd have an obesity epidemic if we all watched television on stools.


Half the parents in a recent survey favoured the return of the cane. This is a statistic that, like the frightening majority who support capital punishment, makes you realise how disparate the views of the public often are from the bien pensant liberal media. In an ideal world, there would be no need for corporal punishment, but the threat of its return may be no bad thing. In my disastrous and short-lived career as a teacher, it quickly became apparent that what was disempowering was the lack of any meaningful punishment. As a child, you work out what is the worst that can happen, then calculate how much you can get away with. Perhaps if my pupils had been the slightest bit frightened of me, they wouldn't have come up with such ingenious ruses to avoid doing any work.