Friday, August 20, 2010
Not All Fat Ladies Are Pregnant
I have a terrible confession about a major weakness of mine – a paranoia, even. I can spot a close acquaintance on the other side of the street and, mid-hail, will stop myself from saying his name – just in case I’ve confused him for someone else.
So, to avoid potential embarrassment, I utter a strangulated “Hi there” and wait for him to acknowledge me. Often confirmation of the person’s true identity takes several minutes. I can’t just say “How’s Dorothy?”, or “Are you still with the Gas Board?”, just in case my friend isn’t the friend I think he is, or isn’t married to the right person, or in the right job. So I tend to come out with phrases like “How are things?” and wait for a clue in his reply to reassure myself that I’m both talking to the correct person and that I really do know what he does, who he lives with and all the other essentials to ensure safe ongoing discourse.
This long established fear of awkwardness and humiliation would keep a psychotherapist in new couches for life, I’m sure. Something in my childhood, some terrible mortification long hidden behind a mask of uncertainty, will have prompted this terrible discomfort. My two years of therapy in California failed to grapple with it: I had bigger skeletons from my past to uncover.
In the 1980s I made the world’s worst talk show producer because I could never recognise any of the guests. I once told a well-known artist in the Groucho Club how much I liked his movies. He replied “I like Lindsay Anderson’s work too, but sadly I’m not him”. I was so distraught, he sketched a portrait of me which he gave me “to remind me who I am”.
So, as a result of this perverse obsession with identity, I’ve always been very careful about what I say to anyone. Most of all, I keep quiet about their appearance. I’ve even stopped saying how well people look since a former work colleague whom I did recognise (also in the Groucho Club) revealed, after receiving my congratulations on his slim physique, that he’d just been diagnosed with cancer. Sadly I read that he died last Sunday.
So imagine my surprise when three people in the last 24 hours have had the courage to come straight up to me and declare, bold as brass, how much weight I’ve lost. I’m full of admiration – for them, not me. I’d be too scared to say that to anyone for fear of the consequences. But why only three, and why in the last 24 hours, when I’ve been hovering around this weight for a week and a half? Maybe they are secret readers of this very blog?
Tomorrow I’m going to wear a big badge with “The Diet's Over – Yes, I’ve Lost Nearly 2 Stones - Congratulate Me!”. But first let's take the photographs: so I can carry the proof with me forever.