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Published: April 21st 2010
21st June ‘09:
I was all set to do a piece on Gothenburg's archipelago today. But Dutch Marco photographs me, chats a bit, and sets me thinking along other lines. 'I saw a security girl in a deckchair,' he says. 'But I didn't see the chair any more.' Obesity, it seems, has even reached Sweden.
So, I'm abandoning the nearby islands and concentrating on a pertinent world issue: porkers. Yes, I'm for the high jump from the politically correct - yet again - but you know I never mean any offence. We're not talking about figures like Namibian, by the way - on the cusp of letting himself go; I mean REAL bloaters. His tummy is simply middle-aged spread, the merest hint of a paunch. David's second driver, on the other hand, needs to cut down a bit.
The “pic 'n' mix king”, as this chap is now dubbed, is unable to walk and talk simultaneously. Deplorably breathless, he has either to stop, or let another party hog the dialogue. This is a good place to reintroduce Gentleman Steve, actually; we haven’t had any of his quotes for a while. Loquacious as ever, he throws in his
tuppence worth on the subject. 'Over-active thyroid?' he snorts. 'More like an over-active knife and fork.' Bear with me; we shall return to safer, family topics - sex and drugs, for example - in the fullness of time. Steve puts the final nail in the coffin, quoting his Aunt Elspeth. 'There weren't any fat people in Auschwitz, you know.' Ouch! Blimey Steve, are you allowed to say things like that?
Erm, where am I going with this? Advocating a balanced diet and a spot of exercise, that's where. It's not always that cut and dried, though, is it? Sedentary jobs - long-distance lorry driving, for example, will never be the key to longevity - and crap food are partly to blame, I suppose. But you know when you overeat at Christmas? Yeah, that last kilogram of Quality Street on Boxing Day that overloads the pancreas. Well, when all the relatives finally bugger off, and your trouser button flies off, you diet, don't you? Or if it's a particularly harsh winter, perhaps you wait until spring. Either way, Plan “Weightwatcher” is in operation by May - to look yummy for the mating season.
I wonder what goes wrong, then,
in some cases. But, is it necessarily a problem? After all, chubbies are always smiling..
23rd June: (“Dutch Donja”)
Wow, the Pet Shop Boys are still performing; the Pandemonium tour is in full swing. With just one truck, Neil and Chris have got the equipment down to nine tonnes - 'we'll have to lose some of the crew. You're a heavy lot,' they say. This I glean from the tour programme. What I admire most about them - call it the sublime to the ridiculous if you like - is the importance they place on mealtimes. One o'clock is lunch.
MY lunch is with Dutch Donja, the sort of girl you could buy a farm and settle down with. Living in Central Amsterdam - a hefty cycle ride from the Ajax Stadium - she is convalescing from a snowboard accident. 'I broke my back,' she says matter-of-factly. 'And my left arm.' A week or so later, her right arm appeared bluer than it ought to; something was wrong. Movement was dexterous, if a little painful, but she forced those rogues at
the hospital to take an X-ray. 'Sorry,' they said, 'but that arm is broken, too.'
For someone fresh out of a corset - not as saucy as it sounds; it’s more like a harness, really - she's in remarkably fine fettle, buzzing round the flat like an able-bodied person. Perfectly capable, in fact, of preparing my lunch.
'You should be able to cook at your age,' she says, barely visible behind a square foot of Turkish bread. 'Why don't you do a course?' Well, because the whole exercise seems such a bore, that's why. When I'm hungry, I want to eat immediately, not fool about chopping things.
I’ve just realised, with an embarrassed shudder, that I've stalled for more than a decade now, surviving when at home on a food-for-wine program. This entails being pampered by Shiraz-guzzling beauties most of the time, but heating up a stir-fry myself at an absolute push. I'm not proud of it. 'It's less pathetic than a girl not being able to cook, though,' says Donja, making me feel marginally less useless. She spits a cherry stone onto the garden soil. It feels a bit like a Sunday.
Back at the
stadium, French Fred is photographing his shoes..
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