spare tyres  | 

Roy Curtis: I am urgently required to lose weight, to show the calories the red card

"It appears that I am the product of a one-night stand between a breakfast roll and a keg of stout"
Stock photo

Stock photo

Roy Curtis

THE scales buckled and groaned in a fashion that suggested a sweet-toothed African elephant had stepped aboard.

It delivered confirmation of my well-fed status not in stones or kilos, but in spare tyres, a greater number than Lewis Hamilton would require if the streets of Monaco were carpeted in rusty nails on the morning of the F1 Grand Prix.

I am the Michelin man's Celtic cousin, Pavarotti without the voice, a 21st century Henry VIII, or at least how that famously corpulent Tudor monarch might have looked had he eaten all six of his unfortunate wives in one sitting.

It appears I am the product of a one-night stand between a breakfast roll and a keg of stout.

Armed with the most destructive self-loathing, I wobbled before a full length mirror.

The room darkened as my immense form blocked out the sun. It was midnight at midday.

"Porter makes a man hungry"

"Porter makes a man hungry"

The good news is that I resembled any number of famous sportsmen. The bad news is they included roly-poly 1970 wrestling duo, Giant Haystacks and Big Daddy; the late, 20-pints-a-night Scottish darts favourite, Jocky Wilson; and any number of loin-clothed Japanese exponents of Sumo.

All of this occurred two days ago on what was the most dispiriting, bleak, and oppressive Friday. I haven't breathed out since.

Discovering one is dimensioned like a mountain range (were Edmund Hillary still alive he'd be affixing his crampons and setting out on the eastern slopes of my Himalayan expanse) is - excuse the pun - a crushing experience.

For the last 48 hours, I have been engulfed by the kind of suffocating and debilitating panic I last endured 36 summers ago on the opening morning of the Leaving Cert.

I am urgently required to lose weight, to show the calories the red card. It is as daunting as it is disheartening.

A clutch of Easter Eggs - look, they were on special offer so don't get all sanctimonious on me - sit in the far corner of the room like a smug, tut-tutting lifestyle rebuke.

During 2020's initial lockdown, I starred in my own production of Operation Transformation.

With the pubs padlocked (I've never been a home drinker), I went three months without a pint.

A lunchtime Ryvita was my idea of decadence. My exercise regime made Joe Wicks look like a slovenly couch-potato.

The weight fell off. I pondered a new life as a freckled Frankie Dettori. In an uncontrollable fit of jealousy, the Duracell bunny took out a contract on me.

I was bursting with joy, a Niagara of happiness, a study in sparse contentment.

Stick on a white jump suit, a medallion, and a forest of tresses and I'd have passed for one of the Bee Gees during their stick-insect Saturday Night Fever phase.

Yet in less than two years, Barry Gibb has morphed into Mister Blobby.

And I'm just the latest to learn that self-esteem shrinks in inverse proportion to the accumulating pounds.

Here's the dilemma. I desperately want to downsize, but I am blessed/cursed with a gluttonous appetite for life.

I devour every sensory experience in super-sized portions. Restraint is an alien concept.

Old, historic pubs are my natural terrain. Just as the swamp is the hippo's natural habit, so the barstool is mine.

The manner in which these ancient taverns - social museums, curators of yesteryear - chronicle the passing decades is bewitching, irresistible.

They also serve porter, each pint a creamy reservoir of calm, a glorious, meditative, enriching companion.

And porter makes a man hungry. A chicken curry with egg fried rice, chips, a portion of spring rolls and a cholesterol-lined bag of prawn crackers magically satisfy that rumbling tummy.

So, let's not submit to delusion, it all starts with the pints and the pub.

Please, don't use the M-word. Moderation is for wimps. I am incapable of half-measures. My nature is all or nothing.

To leave behind my XXXL status first requires some kind of self-imposed exile from holy ground.

And, honestly, I'm not so sure that's a road of self-flaggelation I wish to travel.

Sitting with friends or a book in a favourite hostelry on a Saturday afternoon, watching that first pint settle, contemplating existence, at one with the great spinning planet, is to know perfect peace.

The liver might feel as besieged as Michael Caine at Rorke's Drift when the Zulu war-drums sound, but the mental health benefits of a night out with those who fill us with laughter and love remains incalculable.

So, on what side of the boulevard of life do I pitch my tent?

Treadmill or tavern, tofu or twelve-inch pizza, avocado or Arthur?

I think I'll contemplate that seismic choice over a quiet Easter pint.

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