British people are the fattest in Europe but also, we are told, the happiest with our weight; the French would say we are "bien dans notre peau" or happy in our skin. Sure. And secretly I'm a skinny supermodel called Kate Moss; so secretly even my mirror doesn't realise. How many tubby British teenage girls are happy in their peau when they realise that unless they starve themselves they're never going to look like the skinny models and actresses in the glossy magazines (who don't look like that either having been airbrushed)? So it's another diet or weight loss pills with side effects you don't want to think about too much (the drug company calls it the "Alli Oops" as if it were mildly amusing, which it is not) or another deep pan pizza. Seeing the swathes of flesh bared on a chilly day in London recently I suspect the pizza and deluded mirror have joined forces. "Does my bum look big in this?" "No dear girl, you look just like Kate Moss. Honest"
I do wonder what those who sit on the Underground and eat their own body mass in crisps, chips, chocolate and McDonalds in five stops on the Central Line and still have time for a Diet Coke, expect. Having said that, I am not sure if it's entirely their fault. Every time I go to Britain I put on weight. Every time without fail; I get back to Paris, step on the scales and I'm two kilos heavier. Not only is it annoying, I just don't get it; in the UK I eat less, I eat earlier and I expend half a million calories hauling bags and La Fille half way up the country to my parents' home and then down again.
This time I bought sandwiches for the Frenchman and La Fille for lunch and an apple for me. I said no to fish and chips and ice cream by the seaside and opted for salad. I refused potatoes and Yorkshire pudding and had extra vegetables, I ate the rhubarb without the custard. Back in Paris, I stepped on the scales: two kilos, give or take a pair of M & S knickers.
When I left the UK nine years ago chocolate bars and bags of sweets were normal-sized. Now the confectionary counters that are in your face every ten paces in London look as if they have undergone radiation on a Chernobyl scale. Then there's the enticing "two-for-one" offers in the supermarket and the obscene cereal boxes as big as houses (because of course it's cheaper to buy in bulk and not, dear customer, because we're trying to encourage you to feed your face even more, oh no, no nooo!) And a large glass of wine? Why not?" One third of the entire bottle in one go.
The "meal deal" on the train out of Liverpool Street was astonishing for the sheer volume of empty calories:
* a sandwich made of slices of bread I could have used as trendy platform soles
* a large bag of crisps
* a chocolate muffin that just screamed for Sir Ranulph to conquer it
* (the healthy bit) the smallest bottle of orange juice I've ever seen outside of a carton.
All that for just £6. A bargain! But let's face it, there's no mirror in the world going to give you a Kate Moss bottom if you eat all that in one go.
Quid pro quo
1 week ago