In every sense, it is the calm before the storm, whether it is tomorrow’s weather, or my 1,000 mile walk in two and a half weeks’ time.
I was distracting myself last evening by reading some of the reviews I have attracted on book review sites, (which, obviously, writers never do), the best of which were:
‘The usual type of faux self-deprecating cricket book that has moments of humour, but it is a little too smug to be enjoyable’ (Not Out First Ball)
Did not finish. It’s not about honeybees, it’s about people. I thought it was about honeybees. Hated it, and returned it for a refund from Audible.’ (Liquid Gold)
‘Somewhat bitty, and oddly unsatisfying as not being meaty enough in content. …Sounds like the author’s research hasn’t been very comprehensive.’ (Shearwater)
‘Bit of a let down. Just not funny. Did not meet my expectation in the end’ (Unlimited Overs)
‘Rubbish. Just rubbish.’ (Not out first ball)
With regard to the last one of these, I actually engaged with the reviewer, as you are entitled to do as the writer, and told him that he was a master of accuracy and brevity, and that I could have saved myself time by summing up my cricket team in his three words, rather than my 270 pages, but I never heard back from him.
So I have been concentrating on any more recent milestones, like the fact that I have lost five kilos this year. Now, in old money, five kilos was eleven pounds, which was bloody nearly a stone, but it is still something. My best man, who has been a relentless pointer out of my expanding waistline over the years, has been too busy to notice, but at least Caroline has, which is nice. Here’s how it has been done.
First, we have the no alcohol in 2022 (so far) achievement, which has actually been astoundingly easy so long as I always manage to avoid having ‘just the one’. Having spent a lifetime feeling guilty whenever I hear one of those endless news reports that records how such and such group of scientists have concluded that even a pipette of wine a year is going to lead to anything from piles to cirrhosis and imminent death, I now actively seek them out, and turn the volume up on the radio when they come on, if only to make the point that they are not talking about, or to, me.
Then there are the snacks, which I have officially given up. This, too, is easier than you think. All I have done is convert from the Anglo-Saxon dining habit (breakfast, lunch and dinner) to the Spanish one (desayuno, tapas, comidas, merienda and cena), which has allowed for two extra entirely legal grazing periods in every 24 hour period. Result: no snacking.
Thirdly, there is the matter of seconds, which I have sort of given up, unless the meal was really good, or I was feeling hungry, or it would have been rude not to.
I have been helped by the best diet book I have ever read (indeed, the only diet book I have ever read) which is called the Diet Myth, in which the author rather ballsily describes all diets as dishonest, and then gives one of his own. The key, he says, doesn’t lie in fasting, or rebalancing carbohydrates or, heaven help us, buying any of that Goop woman’s books, but in eating a minimum of 30 different types of unprocessed food in the course of each week. This is easier than you think (you can get about eight with a bowl of granola), and I have done it for the last six months. Annoyingly, I feel much the better for it.
Finally, I have been relentlessly getting my modest amount of miles in with 12 kilos of James’ Renwick’s finest spuds in my backpack. I can’t say it’s been fun, but then I don’t imagine Michelangelo had a ball painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling either, what with one thing or another.
So in 18 days I will put it all to the test. I read an account of a slightly older man who had walked the other way and lost two and half stone (sixteen kilos) in the process. One look at a photo of him on Day 1 explained why this might have been, but not the more nuanced fact that he was by a country mile the most boring man in the northern hemisphere.
Whenever you next hear from me, my one promise to both you and me is that I shall try not to outdo him in either.