I wrote that piece nearly a year ago, and I am pleased to report I have had no more accusations or criticisms about my appearance of that nature in that time. I don’t think it is reflective of any changing societal views, certainly not ones brought about by readership of national newspapers anyway, but it’s a step in the right direction.
It’s at this point that I admit I have recently taken serious steps to improve my health, and this does mean I have lost some weight. I haven’t done it because of pressure to do so, or the rationale put forward by the Mail that I might magically turn my life around by halving my weight overnight and becoming an instant success and bring all the boys to the yard, I did it because I woke up one morning and stood on the scales and realised this wasn't doing my health any good. I am now 23 years old and for purely selfish reasons, I didn't want to cause myself any lingering health problems. I have a bad knee from an injury a few years ago, a chronically aching back and I can’t really run anywhere without needing a lie down afterwards. It was a bolt from the blue, and I decided to change. After I’d had a biscuit, of course.
So, on 12th February 2013 I gave up cheese and alcohol. Cut it all right out, under the pretence of giving something up for Lent. I am someone who loves indulging in good food, as my cake baking habits will tell you, and I've never knowingly turned down a Full English Breakfast in my life. I’m sure everyone, at one time or other, has had moments where all you can think of doing is eating vast amounts of bad food and a few too many glasses of wine at the end of a long day. I have nothing against this, I have done the same. One of my good friends once bought me a greasy cheeseburger and chips from the joint round the corner from my house in York because, in the space of 24 hours, I’d lost a place on a University Masters programme and broken my hand (it was a really bad day…) We are human, we have moments of weakness, and even though I've now been off cheese and alcohol for 2 months I have fallen off the wagon a couple of times.
But in those 2 months, through being careful and eating a banana instead of a slice of cheese and being stone cold sober, I've lost nearly a stone and it’s wonderful. I haven’t noticed where on me it’s gone from, but it’s definitely gone. I have a graph and everything. I will keep going too, I want this to work.
So that’s just me. I have my own reasons for doing this, and I don’t give a hoot what people think. I'm not sure what kind of point I want to make from this, but I am probably around 80% happy with the way I look at the moment, and I hope by taking the steps outlined above that this will improve. I don’t even especially care whether my body image happiness changes or not, because that isn't the reason why I'm doing it. I'm doing it because I don’t want to be told I have a medical problem stemming from comfort eating my way through secondary school. I will hopefully have a career and achieve lifetime happiness whether I'm a size 8 or 18, eating a steak or eating a salad.
Finally, and the bit that really made me angry in the Mail article - if anyone ever tells me to stay thin or stay single, as I said in the last blog; they are not worth my time or effort.
Hand me another slice of pie.
As I’m sure you’re now well aware, I have a fractured wrist, and as my audio post from yesterday will tell you I had to go to hospital for another check-up and cast replacement. In the slight rush to leave the house yesterday afternoon to walk into town I forgot to pick up a book to take with me to while away the inevitable wait to be seen. So, instead, I swung by a bookshop to find something to read and picked up Aggers’ Ashes, which I have been meaning to buy for a while (initially as a birthday present for Dad which I would then later steal and read after he had, a principle that has been in place for many years now). I did indeed have a long wait in York District Hospital fracture clinic, but I quickly realised an hour had gone by between my checking in at the desk and being called by the nurse. I had been so engrossed in the book and reliving the five Ashes tests I hadn’t noticed the time. I am dealt with fairly swiftly at the hospital and am soon on my way home, arm encased in purple, slightly cheesy smelling rubber for another fortnight. I am now writing this less than 12 hours later and I have finished reading the book.
I will now divert from this veiled attempt at a book review to offer you the following, long overdue explanation. As you’ve also probably guessed from reading my various existences online, I am a cricket fan. The humble beginnings of my support of the sport beginning with That Ashes Victory in 2005 when I was just 15 having spent the previous decade and a half of my existence disliking cricket as much as I could. Anyone who knows me and has spoken to me in Real Life since then will testify that this is the polar opposite of my current state of mind. I sleep in my ODI shirt for goodness sake (don’t judge me, it’s comfortable) and I have a summer job at Lord's to look forward to.
And so, when November 2010 rolled around and the start of another Ashes campaign began I was quaking with anticipation. Over the coming weeks I would ruin my sleeping patterns and required extra strong coffee to stay awake in lectures the following morning. Wrapped in my many blankets and wearing a potentially record breaking number of socks, I lay awake at night listening to Test Match Special. I was checking the antics of cricketing personalities on Twitter on my phone, striving to complete chapters of my undergraduate dissertation, and trying to cope with a Yorkshire winter reigning down outside. I’d often fall asleep with the radio on and wake up at odd times to hear the voices of many TMS regulars in my head, which is VERY odd. By the time we won the Ashes in Sydney I was down South (where it wasn’t any warmer) and had access to Sky Sports. I was awake until way past 4am listening to TMS and generally getting excited about the fact we had won The Ashes on Aussie soil for the first time in 24 years. The excitement was similar to Christmas when, on Boxing Day morning, I woke up to the sounds of various family members gleefully exclaiming the words “98 all out!”
So reading Aggers’ Ashes I remembered all the excitement and high points of the 2010/11 Ashes series. From watching Swanny’s Diaries I can recall the moment The Sprinkler was unleashed and giggling like a child when Aggers performed this dance on the radio (John Cleese’s Silly Walk, anyone?) The astonishment and awe of Alastair Cook’s multiple centuries over the course of the 25 days, the disappointment when we lost in Perth and the frequent explanations of “No, we haven’t won them we just can’t lose now” after Melbourne. Reading the chapter on the fifth test and reliving the final day in Sydney brought a tear to the eye, and remembering that at the exact moment Tremlett took the final Aussie wicket, Radio 4 had cut to the Shipping Forecast. I urge all you cricket fans to read this book if you enjoyed the Ashes and the sport as a whole as much as I do. I have read, or plan to read, previous material by Aggers and his TMS collegues and this is as enjoyable as those, and being a penniless student I find myself listening to TMS more often than watching the TV coverage. TMS offers a highly informative and entertaining view on the days play, and Aggers' tour diary as detailed in the book provides some behind the scenes views and antics of the victorious winter in Australia touring with the media teams covering the event and his own valuable views on what's going on. All served with some nice picture pages at regular intervals in the book, incase you forget what The Spinkler looks like.
So thanks, Aggers. Can I get my copy signed at Lord’s in July? I promise to bring cake.