I’m late this week, and with too many sins to report. It’s been tough, diet-wise, to stay on track recently. The rule of thumb seems to be “stay at home and lose weight, or go outside and put loads on”. Or so it feels. I’ve written before about how few cafes and restaurants cater for healthy eating, regardless of the b*****ks they put in the blurb on menus. And this week I’ve had to leave the safety of the Collegiate Debtors Prison, more than I’d have liked, so naturally my focus and willpower has been tested to the max, and I’ve been thrown from the normal routine that helps me stay on track.
Last weekend, as expected, it was another couple of days spent as far away from the diet wagon as it’s possible to get. The trip to hair chopper No.2 was moderately successful – I took pictures with me, and everything – but it still didn’t end up how I saw it in my head (on my head?). But that’s because I’m a control freak. On Saturdays, I usually stay in, because I’m intolerant of crowds, particularly people who dawdle, so going anywhere near town at a weekend is a bit like trying to make me walk over broken glass while humming the theme to Z Cars. But I was looking forward to seeing Brenda, who was over from Jersey for the match, so I suggested meeting in The Cornmarket, which is just enough out of the way to avoid getting ambushed by two million Primark bags.
We, and the two other friends who joined us, had a lovely afternoon catching up, and I was sensible, staying on vodka, and managing to keep it in single figures, before we ventured over to Piccolino for tea. A very nice Caesar salad kept me behaving, although I did default on three glasses of Pinot, but I didn’t want Brenda to drink alone. After that, we headed over to The Lion, for an evening sup, which turned into nightcaps, before our friends headed back to Waterloo, and Brenda and I managed to sneak into The Richmond (a Blue pub, yikes!), for what felt like a middle-of-the-night-cap. Later, we tried to get an even-later-cap in South Liverpool but, contrary to popular belief, Allerton Road is not open all the time. At the end of the day, then, I knew I was well under, calorie-wise, for food. But drink…er, no, not really.
Sunday, I had time to indulge a mild headache, before heading back into town with The Olds, to watch the game in our lucky pub, the Victoria Cross. Not so lucky any more. Our failure to score against Stoke City was, in my opinion, down to Tony Pulis putting out a rugby team instead of a football team, which the referee didn’t seem to notice. The pub might have been packed full of Reds, but the air was distinctly blue.
After the game, I went over to The Vines to await Brenda and Sharon from Anfield. The Vines (or ‘The Big House’ as it’s been known for years), is a cracking place, full of soaks, songs and soul. It’s managed to evade modernisation (I’m pretty sure it’s a protected building, inside and out), and it’s great to just sit in there and marvel at the architecture, the amazing fireplace in the side room, and listen to the echoes of its 1960s heyday. In the back room, you can almost still hear all the famous bands that used to play there, and at weekends there’s always something going on. It’s proper Liverpool life, in here.
In the Victoria Cross, I’d had a litter of hairy dogs, of Great Dane proportions, so I was already on shaky ground, calorie-wise. I knew Brenda was tired from the day before, plus the disappointment of the match, so I was thinking that this would be an early night, being Sunday and all. Yeah, yeah…you know where this is going.
Brenda wanted to go to Lark Lane. She was staying by the airport so, as I was staying at mum’s again, at Mossley Hill Towers, it made sense for us to head south. The three of us jumped in a cab and arrived at another beautiful old pub, The Albert, in double quick time. Finding a seat in the back room, we got through more wine and chat before deciding to head up the road to find somewhere to eat. My calorie count on alcohol alone, was heading to 1000.
We decided to dine at Esteban, a friendly tapas restaurant further up the lane. Being a Sunday, it was pretty empty, but this worked to our advantage in that, what it lacked in atmosphere, it made up for in the chef giving us his undivided attention. I’d made a half-hearted attempt to ‘be good’, by saying I’d just have a salad or two, but once I’d seen the Tartas De Chorizo y Champinones (Yorkshire puddings filled with chorizo sausage, mushrooms, onions and tomato chutney finished with grilled mozzarella cheese), I was completely doomed. Add to that the meatballs, pork dumplings, chicken goujons and God knows how many other little teasers we picked from the menu, and I wasn’t so much falling off the diet wagon, as being dragged along the ground behind it with my ankles tied together. Oh, and Brenda bought another bottle of wine, too. I didn’t think it would be possible to eat an entire 5-days worth of calories in exactly 20 minutes. But that’s what we did.
So, in for a penny…we then made our way back to The Albert, where we knew there would be some live music later. More wine, more vodka, more lots of other stuff I can’t remember. But it was a cracking night, with a cracking group, cracking vibe and cracking, er, craic. Time flew, as usual, until we were chucked out in the early hours and I realised I was a bit drunk.
As is now getting to be a habit, I knew I’d have to be super focused to get back in Diet Yoda’s good books, so I did get my head down and stock up with strawberries, yoghurt and, yes, more chicken, for the week ahead. Three days of sensible, grown-up living ensued, then Thursday came and I nearly slipped up again. I’d gone into town to do my usual “sit in Starbucks for four hours with one coffee, downloading telly”, and then I remembered that our friend, Bobby Fury, was landing straight from Cali-forn-eye-ay for his twice-yearly visit to us, his Liverpool chums. I had time to kill before his Space Shuttle Pendolino touched down at Lime Street, and it wasn’t worth going back home just to come back out again, so I wandered up to Baa Baa on Myrtle Street, just to see if I could pass the ‘cool test’ of sitting in a student pub without getting stared at too much. I needed Wi-Fi, and I needed somewhere near The Phil, where I was due to meet Bobby (yes, I know, now, that The Phil has its own Wi-fi…). Baa Baa was practically empty, but still had that whiff of studentry everywhere, which always makes me feel uncomfortable, even though I used to be one. I asked for a VDC, but was horrified to see the bar-student pour a tiny splash of vodka into what can only be described as a thimble, before showing it the Diet Coke tap for precisely half a second, and then asking me for £2.50.
Not wanting to cause a scene (which is pretty unusual for me), I quickly took the glass and drank the contents before they evaporated, then spied a quiz machine hiding in the corner. A-ha! If there’s one thing that’s as sure as the sun rising and setting, it’s that students aren’t actually very clever, and I could be in with a chance of recouping what I’d just thrown away at the bar. I only had five minutes, though, so I went for the obvious game – Blockbusters – and was delighted to snatch a very easy £7, which would then pay for my second, proper VDC, in The Phil.
The original plan that day, when I’d forgotten that Bobby was arriving, was to be home for about 5pm, cook the usual, then chill out in front of S2 of Homeland, and S1 of Modern Family (which I’ve never seen). The thimble of vodka, however, had given me the taste, and I was already worrying that another one might send me down another infinite tunnel of Smirnoff. Luckily, two things saved me. The first, was that I remembered I had to be at Melwood the next day for the monthly forums interview, this time with Lucas Leiva, and it is not a good idea to do those things with a hangover. The second, was that Bobby had plans anyway. Simon was taking him to see Dervish at The Epstein Theatre, as a precursor to next week’s Irish Sea Sessions. Bobby, then, was all booked up. I picked up a cold chilli noodle salad on the way home, which was bland and unsatisfying, but came in at just 180 calories (no wonder…), and I did manage to get my Homeland fix. Thursday, then, was well-saved.
Friday was as frantic as expected. I had a project to complete in the morning, which I’d been procrastinating over for about a month. I’d had no sleep, thanks to the new neighbour, who doesn’t understand the correlation between very loud music and insomnia. He’s a young kid, maybe 23, 24, who’s home all day, has visitors of all hours of the day and night who stay for just 60 seconds at a time, and he only makes phone calls from outside on the terrace. Drug dealer, right? Well it wouldn’t be the first time. So, I’m tired, cranky, and horrendously under-prepared, as I ran to the bus stop in torrential rain, and walked into Melwood 15 mins later looking like a banshee. Fortunately, Lucas was a bit late, but was on good form and gave us lots of things to think about (more importantly, his recovery is bang on schedule). Unlike some of the forums, who have their own video facilities and just post up the link to the entire interview, minutes after it’s over, for RAWK I prefer to actually write something up and put discussions into context (that, and we don’t have posh video facilities). But that takes time.
I was due at my friend, Maria’s, place for tea, but I hate sitting on features that can lose impact the longer you delay writing them, so by the time I got home, I had about two hours to turn the Lucas interview around, which isn’t easy when you have nearly an hour of actual audio to go through again, and formulate into something cohesive. Plus, I was bloody starving, and all I could think about was food. I think my first draft read something like this: Joining Liverpool from Brazilian side, Cheeseburger, in July 2007, Lucas was always going to have to fight for a jacket potato with cheese, in a midfield that included Gerrard, Javier Jalopeno and Xabi Aioli. “It was a privilege to eat lovely food with these players every day” he said…
I arrived at Maria’s in Canning Street at about 7.15pm, to the heavenly smell of sweet potatoes roasting in the oven. She’d also lined up some beautiful pork steaks with rosemary and thyme, with chunky apple sauce. “Only about 400 calories, the lot!” she announced triumphantly. “That includes wine, right?” I replied, more in hope than expectation. The meal was gorgeous, and just what I needed. So, too, was the Sauvignon Blanc, Vinho Verde, and Mateus Rose that also found their way down my gullet. A 4 x VDC nightcap put paid to any hope that I might not be hungover on Saturday morning, and I was already flogging myself in the taxi on the way home, when I realised that Saturday was Shaky Day. James, Mandy and I were ‘doing’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth at the Royal Court, so stamina would be required.
More importantly, it was weigh-in day. And after the previous weekend and the ever-increasing amount of alcohol I seemed to be downing recently, I was as convinced as ever that this would be the week when the wheels really did fall off. Lots of tapas, obscene amounts of vodka and wine, and a general mood of ‘cant-be-arsed-ness’ were surely going to see me punished for my own lack of willpower? See below for Week 6 results.
Things I Learned This Week
1. The same as No.1 last week…
Yadda, yadda, yadda.
2. Fresh egg noodles last about as long as fresh strawberries
Once you’ve cracked open that bag, you gotta eat the bleeders within three days. Not the seven that I tried to get away with. One stir fry this week ended up tasting sickly sweet, and just plain off, thanks to the fetid mass of yellow dough I’d convinced myself was still fresh.
3. Short hair rocks
It’s so much easier to live with. Arriving at Melwood like someone had just lifted me out of the Mersey, emphasised my weird inability to ever purchase umbrellas. This would have been a major issue, had I still had long hair. Thankfully, all I had to do was shake my head and pretend I was going for the “just out of bed wet look”, all along.
4. Sainsbury’s is only for rich people
Four quid for two tiny chicken fillets? Seriously?
Things I’m Dreading This Week
1. Losing my mojo
I’ve felt a bit out of sorts the past week or so. Maybe it’s the lack of paid work, or the high concentration of social situations, which I’m just not used to, even though it might sound like I’m going out all the time, which I’m really not. I used to think I hated routine, but maybe I don’t. There’s something comforting and safe about knowing exactly how my day is going to pan out. Because if there are no surprises, then I know I’m staying on track. I get crazy amounts of work done when I am not distracted, and I can focus on the task in hand. When I go out, my mind gets detached from what I should be doing, and I find it very difficult to get back into that zone. It’s like I literally have to lock myself away, if I’m to do anything useful. This week shouldn’t be as full on as the last, but it’s a question of whether, mentally, I can get back into that safe place again, and crack on.
To Business – The stats bit:
Week 1: 3.25lbs
Week 2: 4lbs
Week 3: 0.75lbs
Week 4: 0.75lbs
Week 5: 0.50lbs
Week 6: 1.75lbs (which definitely defies the laws of physics)
Total after 42 days: 11lbs