Wednesday 16 January 2008

Two steps backwards

I’ve no idea what my weight is this morning, thank God; but I do know that I got through at least 9.5 units of alcohol yesterday, which does not augur well. I’ve only got 1,479 days left to live; and I’m definitely in sea area Thames. Specifically, a creek on the Essex coast that feeds into it, where I am currently floundering without a paddle.

When I abandoned this exciting story yesterday, I was speeding through the London traffic in a chauffeur-driven limousine. Only I wasn’t, really. I was crawling through the London traffic in a chauffer-driven limousine, because cars like that aren’t allowed into bus and taxi lanes unless they’ve got a little blue light in the front, several escorting police motorcyclists, and a member of the Royal family in the back.

The lesson is: never feel envious of the rich, and remember that the quickest way around town is by tube, so long as you don’t mind taking the remote chance of having your head blown off.

We got to our destination of the House of Lords eventually, and I went to have lunch with my friend The Lord. Unfortunately my experience of National Express made me feel much in need of drink, and I responded rather too enthusiastically to his enquiry about wine, with the words, “Well, perhaps some white to start.”

Even so, I thought I had ordered quite responsibly and was a bit shocked by what happened next. No doubt as part of some Government Elfin Fitness strategy, there was a shiny new set of metric scales in the Peers’ khazi when we called in there en route to lunch. So I stepped aboard and they swung round to 99.5kg, or 15st 9lbs. Given that I put on 2lbs the minute I drink my first cup of tea in the morning, and that I was wearing a heavy wool three-piece suit and great big hobnail boots (I always dress with a keen sense of place), this seemed quite compatible with the weight recorded yesterday morning. Satisfyingly, The Lord was 100.5kg.

We then repeated the exercise after lunch, and the machine claimed that I was now 105kg, a gain of 5.5kg. Or, to put it another way, the whole 12lbs I had lost so painfully since starting my diet. I looked around, confidently expecting to find Lord Cheeky Chappie’s foot resting on the scales, but he was nowhere near me. The only word for how I felt at this point was “demoralized”.

To cheer me up, he took me into the House for Questions. I was seated just below the Bar on the Conservative side, and it was uncannily like attending a reunion of the great characters from Spitting Image in the 1980s. There they all were: Prior, Hurd, Lamont, Bottomley. Only The Lady herself seemed to be missing. On the benches opposite sat the Archbishop of Canterbury in his robes, looking as though he had stepped straight out of a Trollope novel (Anthony, not Joanna).

Actually, I had a nagging feeling that there was one other notable 1980s character absent. I finally worked it out when the chauffeur nearly reversed over him in the car park as we left. He banged angrily on the roof and window, like a mad old bag lady. It was the one memorably portrayed as a giant slug, which would no doubt explain why he was a bit on the slow side getting there. I suggested that the chauffeur buy a big tub of salt that he could pour over him if the problem ever recurred.

In the evening, I took a beautiful woman to The Ivy. I’ve known said beautiful woman for seven years and she has never made the slightest public (or for that matter, private) display of affection towards me. Yet clearly my diet has started working much more quickly than I expected; or I have become even more charming than usual; or The Ivy exerts a peculiar sort of magic. Because she started holding my hand in an almost fond sort of way. I decided rapidly that my money was on the magic of The Ivy, and began calculating (in my sordid, Blokeish way) where I would have to take her to qualify for a blow job. For some reason Nobu sprang to mind.

The trouble with women (I mean, one of the troubles with women) is that they do like puddings. I was determined to let her go ahead on her own, but what with the hand-holding, and the moving story about how the great love of her life had dumped her for someone who might be more use to him in his career (the utter, utter cad) and the great selling job done by our waitress, I ended up ordering the Baked Alaska for two. The resulting, brandy-fuelled conflagration by our table kept half the restaurant entertained while they waited for Elton or Kylie to put in an appearance. And as the performance went on, I reflected that it was not just sponge, ice cream and meringue going up in blue flames, but any remote chance I had ever had of winning the Great Weight Loss Challenge.

I did the only thing a Bloke could possibly do in the circumstances, and ordered two large glasses of port.

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