True Colours


A lot of women seem to have a very complicated relationship with food.  A friend of mine was talking about it the other day and was feeling bad that she has an emotional connection to food.  This person is an intelligent and attractive woman.  She both acknowledges and understands that she needs to eat to be healthy but then seems to struggle because she isn’t a sylph.  She knows, as again, we all do rationally, that being underweight is as bad for your health as being overweight – she is neither.  She has never expressed any desire whatsoever to be a size zero.  And yet……

It’s a worse open secret than Harvey Weinstein (allegedly) being unable to keep his hands to himself that the pictures of women we see in the media are not true representations of the women themselves.  I am not saying that Angelina Jolie should have a photo of her first thing in the morning splattered all across the papers or that Kate Winslet be subjected to being interviewed hair scraped back whilst she doing washing up – we all want to look our best and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that – these ladies work in an industry where looking your best is a seller.  The thing is, they’re beautiful anyway.  If they walked into a room with the rest of us, they would be so far the most beautiful-looking person in the room that everyone would turn to look at them.  I bet Julia Roberts’ husband has to pinch himself every single morning because he can’t believe his luck.  They are just much better looking than the rest of us and no amount of photoshopping will make that more or less true.

The other thing is – what is wrong with having an emotional connection to food?  Why is that such a bad thing and why do so many women seem to beat themselves up about it? My sister doesn’t buy biscuits because she says that they sing to her from the kitchen whilst she is trying to watch a film in the lounge and she finds the noise very distracting until she eats them.  Another friend does not buy chocolate.  She says that even if she put chocolate in the loft, and she was down the bottom of the garden, it would call to her and she would be up there to get it out. I admit that I have never heard anyone having a similar issue with fruit and vegetables, but there must be an inbetween.  My sister and my friend deny themselves chocolate and biscuits on a ongoing basis.  And that must make them feel even worse about all food.  It’s just not on.

In around 1965, a young woman aged seventeen had just passed her driving test.  Her father, somewhat reluctantly, had let her borrow the family car.  Cars were a relatively new and very expensive thing to own at that time and not being particularly wealthy it would have been a considerable spend.  Nevertheless, he loved his daughter and against his better judgment, let her borrow the car.  (Yes, the story is going to go the way you think it is).

The daughter returned home a few hours later and the conversation went roughly as follows:

Father : “Hello.  How was your trip?”

Daughter : “To be perfectly honest, Dad, it was a trip of two halves.”

Father : “Oh really, why was that?”

Daughter : “Well, you will have noted, Father, that I have returned to the family fold on foot, whereas it would not have escaped your notice given the tense discussion before you handed me the keys, that I left at the wheel of your new automobile.”

Father : [uneasy now] “Yes, I had noticed.  Do you mind me asking where it is?”

Daughter : [speaking quickly] “It’s coming in a minute…..[mutters]… on a recovery truck…..”

Father : [string of expletives]

Daughter : “But the good news is that when I walking home, (yes I am absolutely fine by the way), I went past a bakery and I have bought you your favourite –  an egg custard.”

Yep, my mother yet again.  An endless source of material.  It will not surprise you to learn, that the proffered pastry did not improve my Grandad’s mood, regardless of it being his cake of choice.  It probably took until I was born over ten year’s later for my Grandad to be able to see the funny side.  By the time I was old enough to understand, it was a story he always told at family gatherings to raucous laughter – the time when my Mum wrote off his car but bought him an egg custard.

My Grandad dropped dead when I was twenty.  I loved him with the whole of my heart and at that point in my life my heart felt broken.  Now, twenty years on, every time I eat or make an egg custard, I think of him.  Me and my sisters gather round, bickering over who has the biggest slice and share the memory and our love for our Grandad over a baked item, the monetary value of which is negligible.  It is as if his hand is still touching ours through the years that will forever separate us.

My head tells me that maybe I could be shed a few pounds if I laid off the odd egg custard here and there. And if I was doing it every day, I should.  But what about my heart?  Why feel bad about looking after your heart?  We all need to remember – loved ones, friends, people who love or loved us once – and that is a good thing.  And things that connect us to those memories are a good thing, even if there is a risk that they may make us a bit more squidgy round the middle.  It comforts me to know that whatever lies in my future, just one small cake can remind me that in my past, and by one person at least, I was adored once too.

We all need to know that.


Twinkle Toes

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People of Libya, the British Foreign Secretary’s words yesterday do not represent the views of the British People and I apologise unreservedly to you for him.  Not just his words.  For him.  There are no excuses and we have none to give you.  We are truly sorry.

I have to ask, and you may not want to answer as it does seem to be a sensitive subject, but are you happy with your feet?   It is well documented that we have a complicated relationship with our bodies.  Most of us aren’t happy with something – some people aren’t happy with their bum, or boobs, or their tum.  Some of us don’t like our hair frizzing in the rain, others get antsy about the tops of their arms being on display.  But I have noticed that lots of people, all sorts of people, seem quite unhappy with their feet and I wondered if you were one of them.

A former colleague of mine was most displeased with her tootsies in both size and appearance.  I queried as to whether they got her from A to B in a satisfactory fashion – neither stumbling about whilst in transit, nor causing her any pain.  She confirmed that they were entirely satisfactory in that respect but nevertheless she remained dissatisfied, although she could not be more specific about what it was she disliked (Too big?  Too small? Ten toes??).  I was unsure as to what other support I could offer her at this point, her being to all intents and purposes, a fully-functioning biped.

Another friend cannot bear for you to touch her feet.  She is so ticklish that she will flail and boot you in the chops.  I took her to have reflexology once.  For those of you who have not had reflexology it is a relaxing treatment for your feet.  You lie under a big fluffy cover and a therapist schmoozes your feet whilst you doze.  You then come round about forty minutes later and apologise for nodding off and wonder if you had muttered something you shouldn’t have whilst under the therapist’s power.  My friend was a little stressed and I had spent some months persuading her that she might find it beneficial, or at least relaxing.  Eventually she relented and I took her along.  I was sat outside the treatment room trying to read a magazine, the silence split by loud shrieks, and then cackles of laughter.  She really does have ticklish feet.

I have quite large feet. Size eight. It bothered me when I was younger as I had to get used to people muttering about going into the bowels of the stock room to see if there was “anything in that size” [read ‘massive’ for size].  I take the positives; there is always a rather good selection of shoes available in my size in sales, and (I may be flattering myself here, but with swimming being the only sport that I am have been half decent at), I like to think that they contribute to me being able to move through the water with a reasonable amount of efficiency – when I’m fit, and on a good day, and with a strong following wind. I am also quite tall at five foot nine, which no one ever seems to notice until I put heels on.  So if I had size five feet, not only would I look ridiculous, I would have some considerable trouble standing up without wobbling about.  Getting from A to B would be even more problematic.  Unlike my colleague, I am now at one with my big feet.  And I am really not bothered what they look like; they’re feet.

However, some days they do let me down.  Like yesterday.  I was out with the Hound.  And if you have read some of my other blogs you will be aware that it is usually the canine that lets me down, resulting in me being wet, muddy or both.  Not yesterday.  I was feeling quite positive; the day, the pace of our walk, the crunchiness of the Autumn leaves and the Hound was doing as he was told for once. Due to this uncharacteristic positivity, the eye of the Gods of Fairness was momentarily distracted from business up North and was drawn to me.  A ripple was sent through the Universe and hooked my right foot under a branch.  Over I went.  Face first.  One minute I was standing, the next I was lying face down in the mud.  To make sure that I was entirely covered, I then rolled over onto my back.  Realising that I was all in once piece and unharmed, being British, the next thought in my head was “oh dear lord I hope no one saw me.”  I debated belly-crawling into a shrubbery to check whether anyone else had witnessed my misfortune, or standing up and brazening it out if I discovered anyone there.  I plumped for option number two as no one had appeared to see if I was all right.  I sprang up, readjusted my coat and hair, and scanned the field.  Phew!  Apart from the Hound looking at me like I was out of my mind, I was entirely bereft of other humans.  Thank goodness.

Their work now done, the eye was drawn back northwards to Manchester and the Conservative Party Conference.  It was here that our illustrious Foreign Secretary was making the latest of his many bids for a place in the Guinness Book of Records for a politician managing to get both of their very large feet into their even larger mouth at the same time. Alas, and due to my over-confidence earlier in the day, the ripple had been delayed and arrived too late to knock him off the podium at the optimum moment, instead only resulting in the PM having a bit of a nasty cough when she spoke. Sorry.

So Bojo now has the record.  Everyone who heard that held their head in their hands and wondered what on earth possessed him.  “….all they have to do is clear the dead bodies away.”  Maybe it was not properly explained.  I am sure that there are a number of bodies with IED devices that need to be moved as safely as possible to prevent further loss of life.  But the thing is Mr Johnson, that is not what came out of your mouth.  You are a Conservative politician, and to all intents and purposes from a very privileged position within our already very wealthy country, and you are also the Foreign Secretary.  Why do you not understand that you of all people cannot say things like that? Please apologise for your exceedingly poor choice of words.  Please.  We would think more of you if you would.  If you cannot or will not stop saying such excruciating things, then remove your feet from your mouth and use them for the only purpose for which they were intended – walking.  Strictly 2018 awaits.