How come, as soon as the sun comes out or the holidays arrive, everyone I know is so inexplicably slim and toned? They’re able to wear those sleeveless, elongated vests that drop from shoulder to thigh without anything getting in the way – no bum or stomach making the slightest protrusion at any stage of the vest’s journey down the body.
In the summer of starve, you would imagine the metropolis’s restaurants sit forlorn and empty as everyone stays at home, post-run, treating themselves to an Alkalize vegetable cocktail from Juiceman.
But the truth is, the country’s food joints are all heaving: Chiltern Firehouse still has waiting lists, Soho’s no-booking tapas bars have queues snaking around the corner and Shoreditch House is heaving with skinny-pinny revellers knocking back sugary cocktails and rosé without a care in the world. Where do all their calories go? To me, I suspect.
It was pondering this conundrum over the last few weeks, while staring at people who could wear clothes that would face a battle fitting on my little finger, that I discovered this fashion-friendly notion called “restraint”. I noticed, after all this time, that my annoyingly thin husband always leaves something on his plate. He will purposely never finish the entire meal: even if he loves it, he will make sure there is a small morsel left on the side. This is doubly infuriating since you can never put his plate straight into the dishwasher. You always have to scrape that one tiny bit left into the bin first. And he never, ever has a second helping.
I, however, am naturally greedy. If something is desirable, then I will crave more: just another small slice of chicken pie, of creamy mashed potato... Oh, it seems such a shame to leave those chips sitting there. Mmm, yes please, mayonnaise would be lovely. After a Sunday roast, I will hold my stomach in pain – caused by so many carbs – and yet will watch, helplessly, as my hand reaches over in front of me and puts one more Yorkshire pudding on my plate.
This afternoon, my lanky 6ft 2in son came downstairs having just woken up. I was in the kitchen tucking into my lunch. Do you want some breakfast? I asked sarcastically. “Nah, I’m all right,” he said, ignoring my “dad joke”. “I don’t eat first thing; just a coffee, please.” This is why he’s wearing drainpipe jeans that would call it a day at my calves and I’m wearing a comfy pair of jogging pants.
It’s not just youth, though they have an unfair advantage – they can eat Haribo and wear Haider Ackermann – it’s willpower. I recently had dinner with my friend Tom at his house. While his guests tucked into gin and tonics, marinated chicken and giant glasses of red wine, he sat eating a plate of sprouting broccoli with a glass of gently sparkling water. He recently took himself off to a three-week retreat in Palm Beach that specialises in raw food and has eaten nothing else since. He’s lost a ton of weight and his skin glowed. I looked at him enviously as I comfort-gulped my chocolate cake and coffee.
For those who find it hard to say no – window shopping has always been a mystery to me – there is another alternative a few people I know have resorted to: liposculpture.
My mate Matt, who was by no means a chubster but wasn’t slim enough to conjure up a six-pack either, went to see a surgeon who sucked away the excess blubber hiding his stomach muscles, and then massaged what was left into a high-definition washboard stomach. The transformation was extraordinary… however, he had to cough up £13k, wear a bodystocking for six weeks and has a handful of scars where the insertions for the vacuum were made. Not for me.
The only concession I’ve made for my holiday wardrobe – actually, quite a big one – is giving up alcohol for the past month. It’s been tough, especially as all my friends drink like fish, the weather’s been booze-friendly and I haven’t been able to find a soft drink that feels like a grown-up treat and isn’t full of sugar. Even the innocent-sounding This Water Pure Squeezed Lemon & Limes drink I’ve been ordering has – according to the Daily Mail (so it must be true!) – as much sugar as two Kellogg’s Chewy Marshmallow Rice Krispies Bars.
Oh fuck restraint and summer’s long-ribbed vests, unflattering Breton stripes and thigh-chafing shorts, you may as well eat. After all, however many club sandwiches and glasses of Gavi di Gavi you’ve knocked down on holiday, you’ll still be able to fit into your espadrilles and sunnies.