No fat

Eleven stones thirteen pounds and four ounces according to the bathroom scales, the first time I have weighed below twelve stones in more than thirty years. Another four pounds and I shall reach the top of the range in which my weight should be. According to the Body Mass Index tables, I should weigh between eight stones and ten pounds and eleven stones and ten pounds. If lockdown had any plus points, it was the opportunity to spend the summer on long calorie-burning walks.

Being overweight came with the clerical life. Spending too much time in the car, taking too little exercise, drinking tea and eating biscuits or cake at every house, it was easy to add pounds to the weight and inches tonthe waistline.

By 2013, I weighed between thirteen and a half and fourteen stones. The arrival of angina that year brought instructions from the doctor that I was to lose at least half a stone. He would be pleased that seven years later I have managed to continue to keep my weight down.

Looking back to my childhood years, I can remember only one fat person. Glady (presumably a diminutive of Gladys, but possibly a nickname entirely unrelated to her proper name) and her husband used to call at my grandparents’ house on a Sunday evening. Glady had always to sit in a very upright chair.

In those more polite times, Glady would have probably been described as “stout.” Glady had the appearance of Ena Sharples, a character from the television series Coronation Street. Dressed in dark clothes and wearing a hairnet, Glady was someone who dominated the room.

It seems odd that there were not more fat people. By the 1960s, food was plentiful. Wartime austerity had lasted through to the 1950s, but by the end of that decade the Prime Minister Harold Macmillan had told people that they had never had it so good, and he was right.

Perhaps it was the experience of the two World Wars and the depression of the 1930s that had shaped people both psychologically and bodily. Perhaps frugality had been so much part of their daily lives that even in the 1960s they remained abstemious in their ways.

Perhaps it was also the way in which life was lived. Manual work was common and hard, cars were less plentiful, bicycles were the norm for many people.

Not being fat was not a matter of losing weight, it was the way life was.


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