‘Oh by the way, I forgot to tell you: I’ve joined an online dieting group for vinyl nerds.’
I take a few moments to process this information.
‘Break that down for me, will you?’
‘We all collect records, we’re all fat, and so we’re posting our weight on a forum each week. Kind of mutual support.’
‘Right. Okay. Sounds normal.’
‘I’m the heaviest. But I’m also the tallest, so it’s not fair. I think we should post our BMI instead.’
Wild horses could not encourage me to post my weight or my BMI on an online forum, but then I suppose humiliation is the point here.
‘Does this mean you’ll be eating anything particular?’
‘No, just the same as normal. Something light in the evenings. A salad. Something like that.’
Ah Herbert, ‘same as normal’ – that means good intentions until 9pm, when we both get unbearably hungry and end up having second dinner. Or maybe it means going out for dinner and so considering it a waste of money to go for the diet option? Or perhaps caving in to comfort food the moment either of us feels a twinge of stress?
I’ll admit it: I’m a feeder. I come from a long line of them. I love the process of cooking, and I love watching Herbert tuck into a plate of food that he really likes. He has this way of nodding appreciatively at good dinners. It’s extremely rewarding. I may not always manage to be the most tolerant of wives, but I make up my nurturing deficit with food.
Once upon a time, women were positively admired for producing portly husbands and fat children. On holiday in India a couple of years back, I actually received compliments for how well-kept Herbert was. I was either born in the wrong era, or the wrong country.
One of the strangest effects of marriage is the way you become responsible for your partner’s behaviour. It is almost like we take over from where parents left off, ‘bringing up’ our other halves like reluctant children. I found myself furious at Herbert over Christmas for the sheer amount he ate, knowing that, however restrained I was being, he was inevitably condemning us both to a new year diet. When you tie your hearts together, you tie your meals together too.
I suppose, also, that it falls to me to eat up all the root vegetables left over in the fridge. Winter diets and seasonal eating regimes are not an easy combination. But, actually, I think I’ve come up with a response that’s healthy and a little bit luxurious. If your relationship can withstand the effects of Jerusalem artichokes, that is.
Recipe: Jerusalem Artichoke Soup
This is where I buy my cobnut oil – it’s delicious, almost praline-flavoured.