Tuesday 25 March 2008

A brief moment of happiness and fulfilment

Joy was unconfined in the Hann household early on Easter Day. Sadly not because of a sudden access of religious belief, finally enabling me to make sense of the meaningless sequence of events we call life. But simply because I stepped onto my bathroom scales and found them registering 14st 0lb for the first time since those happy (for me) days when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister.

True, they have recorded that weight before in the intervening years of Major-Blair-Brownism. But only when I fiddled with the little wheel at the back before I climbed aboard, creating a benchmark well below zero. Or leaned heavily on the lavatory cistern, either to cheer myself up or because I was too drunk to stand unaided. But this time it represented a genuine loss of 21lb since early January.

Luckily the Hann household consists only of me and a Border terrier called Craster (because he is a world class kipper), who takes no interest in my weight, or indeed anything apart from food, walks and an irritating red, rubber toy shaped like a World War Two mine. So there is no danger that all the whoops of glee will lead to an ASBO for disturbing the neighbours.

I’ve made many attempts in the last two decades to lose a serious amount of weight, but all have failed. Even when an alluring young lady made me a theoretically attractive proposal, conditional on shrinking my body to an acceptable size, I found myself weighing up the potential delights of her boudoir against the known ones of another Greggs steakbake; and the steakbakes won every time.

So what has been different in 2008? Quite simply, the prospect of public humiliation if I failed. Setting a target in print, with the added spice of some competition from yesterday’s columnist Tom Gutteridge, finally gave me the motivation I needed. This was reinforced by writing a daily blog in which I felt obliged to record every relapse, of which there have been more than a few along the way.

The publicity route doesn’t seem to have worked quite as well for Tom, or indeed for certain other Journal columnists who pledged to lose half their body weight for charity, then went strangely quiet. But I do recommend it. Maybe there is a real opportunity here for the classified advertising department.

Like the apparently fictional RAF officer who came up with a cunning plan to secure repatriation from Colditz by feigning madness, only to be consigned to a British mental hospital, I find that I have become strangely addicted to my new lifestyle. (Consuming lean meat and fish, lots of fruit and vegetables, wholemeal bread, almost no dairy products, and rather less alcohol, though I’m still a dipsomaniac according to the official Government guidelines.)

So I’m now going to set another public target of losing a further 21lb over the next three months, taking me down to what the Body Mass Index table tells me is the correct weight for my height. I last got there when Harold Wilson was Prime Minister, in the summer of 1974.

If anyone would care to bet that I cannot do it, that would no doubt add to the pleasure of the journey. For now, I have £210 from Tom Gutteridge and the further £100 I pledged for his 10lb weight loss to give to charity. We have decided to donate it to the Royal Grammar School’s Bursary Fund, in the hope of helping an underprivileged North East child along the educational route we travelled to cushy jobs in TV and PR.

In parallel with this, I shall be pursuing a quest to expand the Hann household by finally tracking down the partner of my dreams (though I’ll probably settle for one who does not give me recurrent nightmares). Whales and Heather Mills need not apply. Must have own teeth.


Originally published in The Journal, Newcastle upon Tyne.

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