Monthly Archives: November 2015

Foot In Mouth Syndrome


Given that I have a black belt in saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, I could probably fill a dozen blog posts with the bloopers I’ve come out with over the years, but someone said something to me last week which reminded me how easy it is to insult someone by accident. I was chatting to a colleague who’d just given me a whole cheesecake to take downstairs for our team – I work in the HQ of a food retailer, and a supplier had left some samples – as I took the offered box I joked about walking the long way around the building so I could eat it on the route between our respective departments. He laughed, and said well it probably wouldn’t be the first time haha…

Now, logic tells me – along with the slow motion way in which his face fell, then turned a lovely shade of magenta – that he didn’t mean it like that…he was talking generally and not insinuating that I’d vaporised samples before, heading down the stairs and along the corridor shovelling cheesecake into my face as I went…it’s just unfortunate that that’s how it came out. I think my snort of laughter sent the message that I wasn’t offended and the moment passed, but imagine if I’d been a really sensitive soul, just how easily I could have assumed that’s exactly what he meant, and how crushed I would have been.

It made me think about unguarded moments of my own where I’ve probably ruined someone’s day by forgetting to push my words through that inner filter which is supposed to vet all my thoughts before they make it out of my mouth. Like the time I bumped into a friend I knew was expecting in the post office and asked her how long ’till her baby was due…turns out he was three months old. Yeh, I wanted the ground to swallow me after that one.

Incidentally some years later, a lady in the queue at the same post office asked me when my baby was due…given that I wasn’t pregnant, just fat, I think that’s what you call poetic justice but in the spirit of avoiding a horribly embarrassing moment for both of us, I rubbed my stomach tenderly and made up a random date. I wouldn’t mind but I think my boy was about eight years old at the time so I didn’t even have the excuse of recent baby weight to console me.

I once asked a friend I knew from college who the bloke in the red shirt was on a photo I’d seen of her in a group and when she said it was her husband I was like no, the old bloke…nailed with a death stare and yes, that’s my husband…awkward…thank God the filter caught the words is he rich? before they made it out past my lips…it was a very close call.

Of course coming from Yorkshire, where people tend to be very straight-talking, I’m probably a bit de-sensitised to start with – folk around these parts tend not to flower things  up, and looking back I think the greatest compliment my ex husband ever paid me was when he commented admiringly that I didn’t sweat much for a fat lass. Not surprising he’s an ex when I think about it, right? The arrows with the sharpest barbs though have definitely been the ones to do with how I look.

There have been occasions in the past where people have said things unintentionally that really hit me hard, ably assisted of course by the asshole in my mind who picked up the baton immediately to make me dwell on them, awarding them far more power in terms of hurting me than they ever should have had.

What I’ve noticed though, is that now this march to Skinny town is established, and it’s gathering a momentum all of its own,  words which might otherwise have wounded are falling by the wayside unnoticed you know? It’s almost as though in my head I’ve totally bought into this fat suit being a temporary state of affairs, so it’s fine not to waste energy dwelling on a problem that’s well on the way to being fixed. That feels pretty bloody cool.

Can you feel the balance of power shifting beneath our collective boots too?

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Feed Me!

a-bit-hungry-I’m not saying I’m predictable, but most days somewhere around 11am you’ll hear me muttering at my desk about the fact that I’m starving. It’s a word so baked into the flippant fabric of first world language that it’s accepted for use in the ‘I’m a bit peckish and could definitely eat something’ situation but you know when I really think about it, I’m not sure there are many times in my life when I’ve even crossed the line from peckish to hungry.

My 11am declaration is usually more accurately interpreted as it’s at least two hours since I’ve chewed something so just in case there’s a hunger pang formulating somewhere, I’d better take action now in order to avert disaster. As I sit here in my kitchen typing this, thinking about my desk in the office at work I can even visualise my emergency stash – a box of teabags, a plastic box with crackers in it, some salad cream, some mayo, some Aromat, half a punnet of grapes and a tin of almonds. I’m not sure I could tell you from memory where my hole punch is, but if you needed a cracker quickly I could definitely deliver.

It’s almost like I’m scared to find myself in a situation where I don’t have ready access to food. Given that I work in an environment where two sandwich vans visit daily, there’s a fully stocked shop just around the corner, a vending machine down the corridor and a trading team upstairs who have a never ending stream of samples available, in the unlikely event that a hunger pang did manage to make it through, it wouldn’t exactly be the end of life as I know it.

Which begs the question, why am I so reluctant to allow myself to feel hungry? That’s surely the cue which most normal people look out for when they’re deciding whether to eat or not. And it’s not like we’re up against the clock as soon as a hunger pang strikes…you know, like you have thirty seconds to eat something or you’ll implode and the world will stop spinning. Hunger pangs aren’t painful, not unless we’re talking the kind of belly hunger that most of won’t ever experience.

I’m not sure that feeling hungry has ever been the number one reason why I eat. If I had to call out the number one reason I’d be hard pushed to decide between habit, and boredom. I think habit might have it by a nose…the first thing I think about when I get in from work for example, is what’s for supper. And often in the past if I’ve grazed my way through the afternoon I’ve probably not even been hungry at that point…but I do associate walking through the door with preparing and eating food.

So, prepare it, but leave it until I’m hungry then..? No, epic fail on that front too…if it’s there and ready to be eaten, I’ll eat it. Where food is there, whether I’m hungry or not, I’ll eat. Even now, when I’m in the sweet spot and my resolve to stay within budget is stronger than I can ever remember, I’ll eat. Those occasional catered lunches at work..? I’m still going in for the kill whether I’m hungry or not. It’s there, it’s got my name all over it, and I’m in there with my plate as though my life depends on it.

So…that’s head hunger rather than belly hunger, right…? I’m sensing work to do, in understanding the difference 🙂

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The Bag Lady


So I realised quite a long time ago that I lean towards an obsessive personality. I don’t mean in a weirdo kind of way, I just recognise in myself the tendency to fall into the grip of something to the point where it stops being a hobby for example, and sort of takes over. I guess it’s another example of the struggle I’ve always had to take a balanced approach to stuff. Trouble is, it’s like anything else…recognising that you’ve crossed a line, and finding the desire or the ability to stop aren’t necessarily one and the same thing, right?

Over the years I’ve referred to myself as a ‘collector’ – isn’t that just the best catch-all name for someone who can’t quit buying stuff…it’s kind of a license to carry on, because it legitimises what you’re doing. Some years ago, I bought a necklace. It was nothing special, just a little piece of costume jewellery but I really liked it. It drew a few comments and I liked the way it looked, so I started paying more attention to jewellery in general. Bought a few more things…outgrew my jewellery box so moved a few things around and had a jewellery drawer instead.

And then another. Then I started displaying them on a wrought iron wall sculpture in my bedroom, and loved the way it looked so once that one was overloaded, I bought another and started filling that one up too. I spent hours scouring on-line outlets for statement jewellery, hunting down unusual and often outrageously priced hand-made one-off pieces. After all, I was a collector. Shops, markets, boutiques, craft fairs…it was all about the jewellery.

The thing is, I rarely wore any of it. I mean I did in the early days, but I was skinny back then. As my collection grew, so did my waistline and in the same way that clothes don’t look or feel right on this fat body, neither does jewellery. You can have a gorgeous statement necklace for example, hand tooled by a master craftsman in an exclusive little studio who’s more than likely relaxing on a beach somewhere with a large Pina Colada on the proceeds of what you paid for it, but when you put it on, if it’s sitting in the shadow of a stumpy double chin, framed by fat arms and with a spare tyre sitting right underneath it, I’m here to tell you it doesn’t look as nice as it did in the shop window. Sure, it might fasten, but it still doesn’t fit…or rather, you don’t fit it.

The jewellery obsession passed, although clearly I will be accessorised within an inch of my life when I get to skinny town. Next it was handbags. It still is handbags…now that’s a fat girl accessory I can get along with. No matter what shape or size I am, fabulous handbags are fabulous handbags, even on this chunky arm. But they’re an expensive hobby and have definitely contributed to my bank manager’s nervous twitch. He’s even keener for me to get to skinny town than I am, on the basis that I might step away from the handbag counter. Because again, somewhere along the way, I crossed the line from interested, to obsessive.

I dipped into the psychology of collecting once, more out of curiosity than anything else – I couldn’t believe the wealth of differing perspectives out there in terms of what inspires people to collect stuff. I suspected some ‘ologist’ somewhere would try and declare that it was my way of filling a void, and I could even get on board with that on some level. It seems that Freud went one step further and regarded it as stemming from unresolved toilet training conflict which seemed a bit extreme to me. I mean yes, fair enough, one or two of the credit card statements I’ve had following a fuck it moment in Selfridges have turned my bowels to liquid, but I always made it to the potty in time!

Whatever…I continue to be a magpie. With great accessories… 🙂

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Police, Fire, Ambulance, Me.


Are you good in a crisis? I am – I sort of come into my own. I reckon lots of my friends would be able to give you examples of me mopping up tears, putting band aids on broken hearts and dispensing the occasional nugget of wisdom over the years. It’s just kind of what I do. I’ve got one or two friends who, I’m not going to lie, have sometimes made my heart sink when I’ve seen their number come up on my caller ID. Because I just knew that it was going to be another drama, which would be really similar to the last one, and which I’d have to live through with them in glorious Technicolor as they settled down to give me every last detail.

One friend in particular, who I’m not really in touch with any more was especially great at calling me somewhere north of midnight on at least two Saturdays each month, after a blazing row with her boyfriend. Between slurps of wine, she’d replay his latest transgression and agonise over what she should do, what it meant, what he might do next, what she should do next, why her…you know the story. I could have answered all those questions right off the bat as it happens – he’s a twat. Get rid of him. The End.

I didn’t, of course. I listened…because that’s what friends do, right? I was proud of the fact that my friends knew they could come to me when they needed support. It was like a badge of honour you know? Besides, I was sure they’d do the same for me…except I never tested the theory. Ah hang on a minute, there was one time when I forgot to put the number five guard back on the hair clippers after cleaning them, and shaved a stripe up the back of my little boy’s head one Sunday night when he was about ten.

Not an age where a wonky bald stripe is a cool thing to have let’s be honest. A very good friend of mine managed to rustle up an emergency hairdresser from her contacts list within thirty minutes and disaster was, if not averted certainly disguised very well…cut in I think she called it.  I mean it still looked ridiculous but he didn’t have to wear the hat for quite as long as he would’ve had to otherwise. I never tested the theory more widely than that though. I’m more of a story-teller after the event, with some wry humour chucked in for good measure.

It was only years later, during a particularly enlightening therapy session with my hooky spooky magic lady that she gently steered me around to the realisation that by constantly acting as the rescuer, the fourth emergency service to my friends if you like, I was able to focus on everyone else’s issues and in the meantime mine remained unresolved. I was a classic case apparently. Who knew?

I need to be needed. It’s one of my things you know?  It’s always felt like an anchor to keep me connected to the people who matter to me. But when the shit hits the fan in my life, I don’t reach out for help, ever. I just get on with it. I cope. Then I eat my feelings, get a bit fatter and continue looking out for everyone else. Essentially I deny my friends the opportunity to support me. And when you put it like that, how is that a balanced friendship? It’s not…it can’t be.

The people in my life who love me, would support me till the end of time, if I allowed them to. I’d have no need to medicate things which hurt me with food. I could be the one on the phone at 3am, hot tears and snot mingling with cabernet sauvignon as I hiccupped my way through the action replay of my own drama in glorious Technicolor whilst they lost the will to live, and dispensed words of wisdom.

Thing is, it’s one thing recognising that, and another thing doing it, right? Once an island, always an island…I might need to work on that a while longer 🙂


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The Sorry See-Saw


After I’d written the ‘unsubscribe’ post a couple of days ago, several of you reached out and offered words of reassurance that if people had unsubscribed from our mailing list, it wasn’t because of anything I’d done, or said. And I love that you wanted to reassure me – I promise I get it…really I do. Much as I love to imagine that the world revolves around me, of course I know it doesn’t. On a rational level I can recognise that I was looking for a reason to accept responsibility for someone else’s choices, and even I can appreciate that’s bonkers. And yet. It’s not the first time I’ve done it – and it’s much more likely to happen when I’m fat.

The subscriber list wasn’t a ‘thing’…but it did serve as a classic example of me assuming that someone was leaving town because of something I did. Jumping to the conclusion that I’d done something wrong, that it was somehow my fault. But don’t you think, when your self esteem is quite low, the opinion you have of yourself sort of clouds the way you look at stuff..? Lots of stuff.

Believing that someone has chosen a course of action because of something I’ve done is bad enough. What’s even worse is when something really goes wrong, and I immediately assume that it’s my fault. I’d hazard a guess I’m not the only one who does that too, right? I’m sometimes hit right between the eyes with the need to apologise but to be honest it’s more like a weird kind of reflex, because often I’m not actually sure what I’m apologising for.

The two opposite ends of the apology spectrum seem to be; those people who never say sorry, ever. Even when they’ve got both feet planted firmly in stoopid. Cemented into place, underneath a neon sign flashing the words ‘in the wrong’ but ready to deny it till their last breath. And then there are those people who aren’t in the wrong at all. They are bang on the money but will freely apologise to anyone who’ll listen because somebody, somewhere was in the wrong, and their default setting is to assume that they’re probably it. Normal well-adjusted people sit somewhere in the middle because..well, they’re normal.

Imagine it as a see-saw…where do you sit? Me, I tend to balance somewhere between the middle and the apologetic end. However, not unusually for a fat girl, I dominate the see-saw completely when I’m at my heaviest. Weighing down the apologetic end of the plank, leaving my opposite number high and dry, watching the need to apologise for being in the wrong cascade down the see-saw towards me. They’re happy, I’m happy. They’re absolved from being sorry, because all the sorry’s at my end, with me, even though by rights it should be theirs.

What I should be doing, is a nifty ninja roll off the sorry see-saw. I’m better than that you know? If I screw up, of course the sorry sits with me and it’s a fair cop. But otherwise..? No, you muppet.

And I’ve tried to think of legitimate reasons why I should apologise for the choices I make, that other people don’t like, or approve of. And weirdly, I can’t think of a single reason why I should. If it’s an opinion I have, a turn of phrase that I use or a bit of over-ripe language that pops out to drive home a point, as long as it’s authentic and real, it’s okay. I mean it’s really okay. People who appreciate me would more than likely pick authentic over vanilla every time, at least I think they would.

And if they don’t, well I don’t need to worry about it. Because what I do and say is my responsibility, and my choice to make, and what other people think about it is theirs, right?

Another little bit of the jigsaw just fell into place for me 🙂

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