Wednesday 24 September 2008

Feeling like Dawn French's fatter American cousin

14st 3lb, 14st 7lb or 14st 9lb, according to successive readings of the LTCB’s electronic scales, at which point I decided that I had better quit before they nudged me back above 15 stone; 4.0 units of alcohol yesterday; 1,230; Chester.

You’ve got to laugh. At least that was what I did as I stood in the LTCB’s kitchen at lunchtime, making myself a cheese and tomato sandwich and listening on the wireless to Ruth Kelly’s incredible explanation of her hugely welcome and long overdue resignation. “Spending more time with my family” indeed. Can all the spin doctoring resources of a leading western government not come up with something more original and convincing than that?

On reflection, I suppose it could be part of a cunning Papist plot designed not only to undermine the brooding Scotch Presbyterian in Downing Street but to pull the rug out from under the whole, ludicrous “women’s liberation” movement (for which read enslavement of women to paid employment). A public schoolboy unconvincingly disguised as Catholic mother of four young children claws his way up the political ladder, where he mysteriously retains his Cabinet place despite proving himself to be disastrously useless in a series of departments, then commits professional hara-kiri by announcing that, actually, nothing is more important than staying at home and bringing up the kids. Surely that faint, distant rumbling must be guttural German laughter from the direction of the Vatican?

I was chuckling about this to myself when I glanced up and had the disconcerting experience of finding a pair of pig-like eyes staring back at me from a distance of no more than six feet. It was one of the fat, ugly and no doubt stupid children from the local bog standard comprehensive sink, spending her lunch hour smoking in the alleyway behind the LTCB’s house and gawping mindlessly through a chink in the fence. I thought of a number of ways in which I could make the day less of a dead loss from the point of view of broadening what passed for her mind, but concluded that nearly all of them would end up with me spending the afternoon down at the local police station explaining myself. So I decided to rise above it, as dear Noel Coward always used to say, and simply ignore her enervating presence.

The LTCB returned from her after-work run announcing that she was so hungry that she could eat her own arm. We weighed this up as a serious possibility, in the light of the deteriorating financial climate, but concluded that it would probably be better to go out to a restaurant. So we walked into Chester, where I rejected her first suggestion on the grounds that it contained absolutely no customers, and must therefore be rubbish. I was not wildly impressed with the second one, either, but at least there was a Dawn French lookalike seated by the door, with a blonde companion who might have been a friend or an amuse-bouche. I muttered something to the LTCB about this being a good sign, on the strength of the folk wisdom which suggests that seeing immensely fat people eating in a restaurant may be taken as a recommendation, as they clearly know a bit about food. I carefully suppressed the rather more realistic voice of experience, which was reminding me that all the immensely fat people I have ever met have got into that state by being totally undiscriminating. Though it soon turned out that this was certainly not the case here, as I soon overheard the ersatz American Dawn French asking the waiter which particular brand of Thai whisky they used in a particular recipe, and frankly I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone get more pernickety than that.

We admired the mathematical genius in the kitchen who conjured up a series of delicious starters in generous portions that were completely indivisible by two. In fact, now I come to think of it, each and every thing was served in prime number quantities: three fishcakes, five duck spring rolls, seven pork toasts and so forth. Next time we come, I shall analyse the main courses more carefully to see whether this obsession continues right through the menu. I shall also try very hard not to eat so much. I felt rather like Dawn French myself as I heaved my bloated body home.

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