Virginia Barton

4 August 2017: Pot & Kettle, Splinter & Plank


4 August 2017


How’s this for a nasty habit? I cannot walk down a street, into a shop or a café without remarking to myself how incredibly fat everyone is. Isn’t that disgraceful?

I caught myself saying to BH the other day that so-and-so had put on an enormous amount of weight. He looked at me with (what passes for) an eyebrow raised, smiled, but said nothing. The penny dropped, and I had the grace to blush.

Talk about pot and kettle; or more poetically splinter and plank.


The message was rammed home a week or so later when a regular appointment with the Nurse at our surgery fell due.

“Do you realise you’ve put on just over 15 pounds since I last weighed you? I need you to lose at least half of it before we meet again in six months. It’s not good for you at your age. I’ll give you a helpful leaflet.”

Brute. Weight, health and age all in one breath!

She handed me a pamphlet called something like The Benefits to Seniors of Losing Weight, and How to Go About it. It was brightly coloured with a logo of a fat person with a dismal Smiley face, and a thin person with a cheerful one.

“You do realise that this is the sort of leaflet that could give me anorexia?”

“Prove it, Virginia,” said the Nurse, with a smile.


We’ve tried several diets in our household. The most successful was the I New York Diet which BH, our youngest daughter and myself tried many years ago. There were lots of tables to fill in and pages of encouraging psycho-burble.

Day One (a Monday of course) found us queuing for the scales and truthfully noting the result on our individual charts. BH was very coy. Only at the very end of the week did he confess his weight before and after; and that was only because he was the heaviest to begin with so naturally lost the most.

The meals were pretty dire and we foodies blenched as we read them aloud– one lunch consisted only of cottage cheese. The permitted snacks ranged from celery or cucumber batons to a dessertspoonful of sesame seeds.

Skimmed milk was a step too far. Have you ever tried it in tea? Yuk. Do New Yorkers know about the English and their obsession for tea? Some terms flummoxed us: what is a London broil for example? Club soda? Or a flounder? But we followed it for a week and BH lost a staggering twelve pounds, the daughter six and myself eight. Sadly we never got round to the Eating Holiday when you could have delicious things like toast with peanut butter! Or hard liquor!


I still have that diet somewhere but the will-power to follow it has gone with the intervening years. Perhaps the Atkins Diet might be more palatable? I’ve tried that too in my time and seem to remember avocados and bacon were allowed. Yum.

Actually, what I really should do is to cut out toast, butter and chocs. Dismal.

Or have you any better ideas?






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