I have a horrible photograph of myself. I am squatting, a huge sandwich in my right hand, smiling paternally at my fragile, beautiful elder daughter who's probably a year old. My cheeks are shiny and rounded like those deep red apples which taste of nothing. The fabric of my trousers is stretched to bursting over my thighs and buttocks. The year is 1964 and I weigh 18½ stones. For Americans that's 259 lb.
I like to pretend I'm not physically vain (intellectual vanity is another matter) and I pondered accompanying this piece with that photo. But my resolve wilted. Not for your sake but for mine; I find it hard to look at that strangeness.
That photo provoked good news and bad news. A year's dieting, plus cycling to and from the office, removed 4½ stones (63 lb). But at the end of that year I crossed the Atlantic west.
To blog about dieting is to commit an offence against common decency. And there's a quick explanation. Serious dieting demands an obsessional outlook; the dieter becomes his or her diet, bereft of interest to others, a creature with shrunken horizons. Don't kid yourself. People may ostensibly applaud your mad-eyed tales about lost ounces but behind that facade they're yawning, hoping you'll explode. Slightly outside their working radius.
All addictions are boring. Reading about a Glaswegian main-lining heroin, it's obvious the writer's become a professional drug addict. Researching drugs. Over-doing food's similar if more complicated. We need food to live. The most successful diet is starvation and death proves it. OK punk, says your trapped reader, why don't you make my day.
Ulysses is on my Kindle and I'll be re-reading that soon. Playing the Takacs doing the late quartets. Starting a new novel. My new diet? There'll be none of that.