I have an apology to make.
In my last blog, I may have given the impression that alcohol is solely to blame for my ever-expanding waistline. This is unfair to alcohol, and I offer a full and unreserved apology. Alcohol and I have had some wonderful times together over the years, and I would not want to jeopardise the bond we have, by making sweeping generalisations about our relationship being detrimental to my health.
In truth, Chocolate Hobnob is just as much at fault for my rotundness, and poor fitness in general, whilst I, too, must share some of the blame, for shovelling entire packets of the delicious little bastards into my mouth in one sitting. But, show me a man who doesn’t love dunking a chocolate hobnob into a brew (you need an especially large mug to get the whole biscuit to fit in), before pushing the entire thing into his gob in one go – usually leaving little chocolate smears at the side of the mouth, which require the delicate dab of a tissue – and I will show you a stinking liar.
Anyway, it matters not who is fault for my increasingly unappealing physique. What matters, is what I’m going to do about it. And something must be done.
I’ve known for some time that my diet, and my penchant for snacking in general, wasn’t great. But there have been signs over the past few months in particular, that I needed to change my lifestyle as soon as possible.
I mentioned in the last blog that, lately, my towel has started springing open after a shower, barely (pun intended) seconds after being wrapped around me. I can prolong the inevitable by refusing to exhale, but eventually that means I pass out, and then I’m an unconscious naked man lying spread-eagled on the floor. No one needs to see that. Granted, whilst it isn’t ideal to find yourself suddenly, and unintentionally, naked in any situation, at least if I’m conscious I still have the opportunity to make a desperate grab for the escapee towel, or something else to cover my modesty (a large cushion, a Pringles tube, the dog….)
But it’s when that embarrassment went public that I really had to take stock of my life.
Now, please don’t think for one second I was showering in public, or in any way naked for that matter, but when you are on your way to a very important meeting at a barrister’s chambers, for a case worth upwards of £250,000, the last thing you need is for your suit trousers to suddenly, and quite emphatically, split. Fortunately, this happened whilst I was on my own in a car park lift, before the conference had started, so no one was around to see my arse burst out of the fabric in quite spectacular fashion, but that didn’t make it any less traumatic.
The glorious irony was, it happened as I was bending down to place my bag and files on the floor, so that I could straighten my tie, which I felt was… wait for it… a bit scruffy-looking. Had I known what was about to happen, I would almost certainly have opted for a slightly skew-whiff tie in preference to having my behind al fresco as I fought to settle one of the biggest cases of my career. I was wearing boxers, obviously (everyone knows that the general etiquette for going to a barrister’s chambers is to avoid going commando), but the split went all the way around so I was extremely self-conscious (not to mention draughty).
Anyway, shortly after this unfortunate event, I decided it was time to lose some weight. And, in the short term, buy some more suits.
Step one in my new fitter, and less trouser-destroying, lifestyle, was to cook healthier food. So, for the past few months, we’ve ditched the jars and tins, and I’ve been trying to do some proper cooking. I say this like it’s a revelation, when I know full well most people are well ahead of me – it’s not like I’ve invented the wheel for Christ’s sake – but it’s quite a step to go from cooking relatively easy dinners, to wrestling with all sorts of actual kitchen equipment, like slow cookers and blenders (again, I realise how ridiculous this sounds, but it’s quite exciting for me).
I’ll happily admit that I’ve started off relatively easily, with some basic curry and pasta recipes, but I’m also well aware that I need to walk before I can run. There’s no point in me scouring the internet for Michelin star recipes, when I haven’t got the first fucking clue what a celeriac puree should look, smell or taste like. Well, celeriac I’m guessing, but that still doesn’t make me any the wiser.
I’m quite enjoying my new cooking hobby to be honest. I think the keen scientist in me (who I repressed somewhere between A-levels and University), likes the idea of putting lots of different bits together to make something wonderful – although, at this stage, I’ll happily settle for edible.
Now, I fully expect that my loving wife would try to protect my fragile ego if I did create something truly monstrous, and smile as she chewed her way through it, but even she couldn’t put a positive spin on food poisoning or choking, so I’m relatively confident that I haven’t, yet, totally screwed something up.
Ollie, on other hand, is usually only too happy to offer some unconstructive criticism of everything I do, so the fact that I’m repeatedly getting a thumbs up and a “yum” from him, is praise indeed. He also likes to pull up a chair and help me sometimes, so it’s good for our father-son bonding too. Not that we ignore each other normally, but it all helps.
Even better, his school have recently started doing after-school classes, and he was desperate to do the cooking course so that he could follow in my footsteps. Bless him.
Now, remember he’s only 4, so I hardly expected him to leave school after the first class, lumbering under the weight of a huge croquembouche (thank you, Masterchef Australia), but his first attempt was sliced up fruit dipped in chocolate. Hardly haute cuisine, is it? In fact, there was very little cooking involved whatsoever, other than the melting of some chocolate. Still, at least melting chocolate does involve an element of heat, whereas the sandwiches he made in his third week were less ‘cooking’, and more ‘assembling’.
Still, we were immensely proud as we sampled the chocolately-fruit delights that he had lovingly carried home, because they meant so much to him.
We told him how impressed we were (quite convincingly, as it happens), and he looked up with a beaming smile and said “I just want to be a good cook like Daddy”. I don’t mind admitting, that at that very moment, I had a tear forming in my eye, and a huge lump in my throat.
Pear, I believe it was.