If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s “always listen to your mother”. I thought I’d got away with something monumental, last week, when my previous week’s excesses seemed to bypass my hips and disappear into the ether. This week, however, all the sins I’ve been storing up have been delivered to my body in one, fell swoop, all tied up in a bright red pre-Christmas bow. Mum said it took two weeks or more, for “indulgences” to find their way onto the scales, and she was right. I guess it doesn’t help, though, if you then spend the subsequent weeks continuing to pig out on pizza, chips and very good Pinot Grigio.
A couple of weeks ago, my friend Ali, in Oxtonshire, had a mishap on the roads, and broke her wrist and thumb, as well as tearing up quite a few tendons, all of which isn’t exactly unpainful. Last Monday, she had to have an operation under general anaesthetic but, because husband Lee was away on business the next day, she needed someone around her for that 24 hours afterwards, to make sure the drugs didn’t do anything nasty. Enter yours truly who, in truth, is about as much help to an injured person, as a poacher would be to Bambi. I’m not used to looking after people, as I can barely look after myself, but I was happy to give it a go, because Ali is a good friend. And they have a big telly and a cat.
I stayed all week, and we mostly spent the days watching true crime documentaries, football, and playing with the cat, plus lots and lots of surfing. Ali was quite groggy for a few days after the op, and the pain in the wrist as it ‘does its thing’ over the next few weeks, is going to be annoying and unpleasant for her. She not used to relying on other people, and she’s certainly not used to being at home all day. Unlike me. I could see how frustrated she was at not being able to do things for herself, but she’s so independent, and totally lacking in self-pity, that I often forgot the reason I was there, as she was determined to do as many things as possible, and I think she actually spent most of the week bringing drinks and stuff in for me, instead of the other way around…
On Tuesday night, I actually cooked a meal. Me. Cooking. Too incredible for words. True, it was only lasagne, but I did make it from scratch, even if I did use three times the amount of cheese I should have done. It was more “Cheese Sauce With a Bit of Pasta, Mince and Tomato”, but it could be eaten with one hand, which was the point.
For most of the week, though, I was very weak-willed, and was easily persuaded to partake in relaxing evenings of wine drinking and chip-eating, the highlight being Thursday when, after watching the boys qualify for the knockout stages of the UEFA Cup (I’m old-fashioned, and that’s what I’m calling it…), we decided to celebrate by ordering Domino’s. They were doing 50% off, which was all the incentive we needed. God, it was gorgeous. Whatever you say about Domino’s, and however ridiculous the prices, discount or no discount, their pizzas are just awesome. I polished off an entire large Pepperoni Passion, minus one slice, which I happily chomped on for breakfast the next morning. Disgusting, gluttonous, shameful behaviour, tinged with delight and deliciousness.
Friday, we were out to wet the head of our friends’ baby, Lucas. New dad, Will, I am convinced, was plastered before we even arrived in The Dispensary at 7pm, but if you can’t get leathered when you know it’s probably the last time you’ll be doing it for 18 years, then when can you? I was drinking lager, unusually, as I just couldn’t face vodka, and I’d been sinning for five days straight, so thought I may as well end the week on a suitably calorific high. After a few hours merriment, ending in The Belvedere, when we had to literally throw Will into a cab back to Waterloo, I was a good girl and swerved the late night curry everyone else was heading into town for. Instead, I went home and was tucked up in bed for about midnight. Result.
Saturday morning – the weigh in. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, talk about devastation. A whole 4lbs. It was a miracle I could even see over my vast belly, at what the scales were telling me. What an utter spangle I am.
I walked around the apartment, talking to myself loudly (not unusual), looking for some sackcloth and ashes to wear over the weekend. 4lbs! I was horrified, naturally, but there was nothing I could do. “Suck it up, Deane!” I bellowed to the mirror by the front door, as I waited for the kettle to boil. But if I hadn’t sucked up as much crap the week prior, then I wouldn’t be in this situation.
For the next week, then, it’s a diet of fruit and yoghurt and lots and lots of water. I need to cleanse, detoxify, and then find a new drink that’s very high in alcohol but low in calories, that isn’t vodka.
And I need some work to do.
Things I’ve Learned This Week
1. I am a Spangle
How can I undo 13 weeks of hard work so quickly, so easily and so utterly pleasurably? I can still taste that first slice of Domino’s, just divine. And the rest of it wasn’t bad either. I think the lack of work made a difference, too. When I have a lot on, I just get my head down and get on with it. If anything, the more work I have, and the seemingly impossible deadlines I have to face, actually makes me work better. I’m far more productive under pressure, than when I have space in my head to misbehave. I might be Queen of Couching, but there’s something about being pushed to my mental limits that brings out the best in me. I need to be kept busy, otherwise Satan takes over.
2. I need to find a vodka alternative
I’m getting sick of it now. I try and kid myself that I drink vodka because it’s so much lower in calories than wine or beer or anything else. But I end up drinking doubles, and twice as many units as I would had I stayed on wine or beer. So there’s no difference. There’s no doubt that cutting out alcohol altogether, would make this whole thing infinitely easier. But, while I don’t have a problem if I’m locked in the apartment (I don’t have alcohol at home and I don’t miss it or even think about it), going out is very difficult. I haven’t yet mastered how to drink lime and soda, while everyone else isn’t. It’s the prices, too. I refuse to pay the same amount for a pint of Diet Coke, as I would a pint of lager. If I’m going to get ripped off in a pub, I’d rather be pissed while it’s happening.
3. Short hair grows too quickly
When I had long hair, I only had it cut twice a year. My hair grows like a Girls World. I have a button in my neck that I can press, to pull out my tresses to whatever length I want them. With long hair, I just put it into a ponytail if it got on my nerves, or was unmanageable, and two haircuts a year is about all I can afford.
With short hair, it’s way more high maintenance. My hair isn’t straight, but it isn’t curly either. It’s kinky, and not in an erotic way. After washing, I have to blow dry it, then straighten it, if I don’t want it looking like I’ve just stepped off the set of Happy Days. And because it grows so quickly, and is quite thick, the delight of having short, cropped hair, has now turned into a mid-collar crisis, and I’m going to have to start going out with a bag on my head very soon, which a lot of people think I should be doing anyway.
Things I’m Dreading This Week
1. Lack of work, again
There’s hardly anything out there right now, I’m scrapping for bits along with thousands of other writers I know. I have a few rude stories to do, but nothing that’s going to cover the bills, never mind Christmas presents. I tendered for 13 gigs last week, so I’d be unlucky not to bag one of them. The only upside, is that the lull gives me time to work on scripts, with one in particular that I really need to get to Draft One by the end of the year.
2. The cold spell
Cold means the need for heat, but putting on my incredibly uneconomical storage heater or wall-blower, costs a million pounds each time, so if it stays as cold this week as it’s been recently, I’m just going to have to wear more jumpers. My friend Craig is using my apartment next weekend, while I stay at mum’s. Which means I’ll be nice and warm….but he won’t. Sorry, Craig.
This Week I’ve Mostly Been Watching…
1. CI: The Crime & Investigation Network
Last time I was in Oxtonshire, cat-sitting, and Brenda came over, I got her addicted to CI: wall to wall true crime documentaries, mostly about murders in small-town America. These murders – we are told – happen to “the last people you’d expect”, in “the last places you’d imagine”. But after a week of being told this every five seconds by the narrator, all I can say is, I’m never moving to small town America, as I’m very likely to get murdered.
This week, on 5-hour loops, Ali and I have mostly been hypnotised by “Snapped: Women Who Kill” – one of my favourites, because it gives me pointers on what not to do, if you want to get away with stuff. Most of these cases involve women who murder their husbands, to claim on the life insurance. But, seeing as 90% of murder victims are killed by someone close to them, killing your partner for financial gain is so idiotic, you may as well record yourself doing it, and send the tape to the police, to save everybody some time. Similarly, the number of women (and men), who bump off their spouses, simply because they haven’t heard of the divorce court, is astonishingly high. Your husband is having an affair? Then go to a lawyer, not the Axe Aisle of Home Depot. Some people get way too angry…
“After The First 48” is another show added to Tivo’s “Favourites” list. This one is a fly-on-the-wall doc following American detectives as they attempt to solve murders in, yes, the crucial first 48 hours of discovery (can you see what they did there?). This show is notable for the very logical approach the detectives take, in their attempts to find a lead, or interpret forensic information. A typical conversation goes like this:
[Cops arrive at the crime scene, the victim lying in a pool of his own blood, a very large bullet hole in his head]
Detective #1: Looks like a shooting.
Detective #2: They got him in the head, I think.
Detective #1: Yeah.
A uniformed officer walks in.
Detective #1 (to officer): Hey buddy, thanks for giving us the heads up, you’re right, it’s looking like a homicide…
Obviously, with minds as sharp as this at work, many of the cases are indeed solved within “the first 48”, which is a relief.
One of the more frustrating shows on CI, is “Curious & Unusual Deaths”. The opening of each episode is suitably teasing, with a soft-voiced, female narrator drawing us in with lines such as “How was this man killed in his garden by a tomato?” and “How did this woman end up dead, simply by walking her dog?”. The stories are accompanied by bizarre, badly acted, and incessantly repetitive reconstructions, of people gardening in slow motion, blurry feet walking along a pavement, and ghostly background music that has nothing to do with anything. The most annoying thing, however, is the strapline they try and sell the show with, during the frequent ad breaks: “Tune in to Curious & Unusual Deaths, where we reveal deaths that will leave you stunned and astonished. All of these bizarre deaths are totally different, yet have one, remarkable thing in common…they are all fatal.” Like, really?
For the record, I have yet to see any demise on this show that was either ‘curious’, or particularly ‘unusual’. The guy killed by the tomato? Nothing to do with the maligned tomato, more to do with the electric fence the stupid man had installed around his vegetable patch to stop his dog eating the produce. And the woman walking the dog got her feet caught in the lead as the mutt began running off at speed. She goes flying, bangs her head. Deaded. Not curious. Not strange. Just bloody unlucky. The show should be renamed “Unlucky & Moronic Deaths”. It’s all very Darwinian.
2. The Amazing Race Season 14
I’m running out of seasons now. Season 14 wasn’t as exciting as some of the others, as the producers forgot to include a psycho. They did remember the gay couple and the redneck husband and wife, though, so it wasn’t all bad. I watched the whole series yesterday, surviving on Cup A Soup, economy tuna chunks, and the 3 x pre-packed sandwiches I’d grabbed the night before from Sainsbury’s Local. 6 hours passed in blissful escapism, watching mad people eat fried scorpions in Beijing, and jumping off 600ft high dams in Siberia, and I even forgot to check the football scores until about 7pm. I even felt myself physically lose weight as I lay, completely inanimate, unable to muster the energy to even lift a mug of chicken & leek to my lips.
I’ve just started watching Season 16, and it looks very promising, especially the two cowboys from Texas, Jet and Cord. As well as having ridiculous names, these rodeo riding brothers are also charmingly dense. Before flying to their first destination, Chile, they went to the bureau de change at LAX to get some pesos, but when they were told the airport didn’t stock pesos, they ordered Brazilian rials instead, “because it’s nearby”. And when they tried to board a bus in Santiago, they just couldn’t understand why the driver wouldn’t accept their money. “But money’s money, right? Why does it matter where it’s from?” Er…
3. American Horror Story: Asylum
I’m catching up now. Three episodes down, and it looks like Adam Levine is finally dead, thank goodness. Unless he comes back as a zombie and tries to hump all the nuns, which is very likely. Jessica Lange is still acting the socks of everybody else, and I’m not entirely convinced by Zachary Quinto’s good guy act. If you want to know who the ultimate bad guy is going to be, look to the good guys. Sarah Paulson is annoying me with her pouting, and I’m not sure how much acting Chloe Sevigny is having to do, considering her character, but all in all, it’s a good romp that’s paying homage to just about every horror film under the sun, as the story ambles along at a sufficiently creepy, suspenseful pace.
The Stats Bit:
Weeks 1-4: 8.75lbs
Weeks 5-8: 5.25lbs
Week 9-12: 1lb
Week 13: zero
Week 14: plus 4lbs – devastating, yet entirely self-inflicted.
Total after 98 days: 11lbs – 3lbs behind schedule.