The Slimming World Man of the Year 2019

I slept like a baby last night.

Well…

That’s not strictly true.

I actually woke up at 11.30pm on my sofa half way through an evening bowl of Weetabix (which I’d fallen asleep in the middle of eating around 9pm) before padding off to bed, where (once under a duvet) I lay motionless for the next 7 hours.

Today I still feel a little tired, but also very very content.

Yesterday I handed over the mantle of MOTY to another (very worthy) winner at the Slimming World HQ in Derby. As always the sparkly castle is a pleasure to visit – because the people there are always so nice – but if I’ve never been there without feeling a corresponding level of stress too.

Absolutely no-one makes me feel this way but me – and the reasons for feeling this way have been different every time. On this occasion I was mostly worrying about being out of target, not being quite as thin as I was when I attended last year and what I’d say to people.

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It’s all in my head though.

All of the clothes I wore fitted just fine, people kept telling me I looked smart, fit and healthy and my partner kept reassuringly squeezing my hand and telling me I was definitely her cup of tea as well as pinching my bottom when no-one was looking.

Thanks to litres of coffee (only having had a few hours sleep) I think I managed to work through my concerns and pulled off the ‘fully functioning human being’ look long enough to shake a lot of hands, feature in a lot of selfies, speak to a lot of people, and then drive home without appearing manic.

Well – maybe not in all of the photos…

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My smile can hide a lot though.

Sometimes in my head though I’m still the fattest man in the room and I’m not sure I’m ever going to get away from that.

It may well be with me for life.

Bizarrely though – despite feeling this way and desperately not wanting to be a disappointment to my assembled peers I was treated like a rockstar from the moment I arrived to the moment I left.

I lost count of the number of hugs and kind comments I received throughout the proceedings. Not only were the PR team and SW management all smiley and happy to see me again but the consultants and contestants all wanted to congratulate me on doing so well as well as ask me questions about how the year had been and how I’d found weight maintenance in the spotlight.

Consultants were even photobombing my selfies!

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Things continued to be slightly surreal throughout the day.

When it was time for a bite to eat I realised I was on huge TV just inside the doors of canteen – meaning that I ended up watching myself on a loop whilst eating the lovely (Slimming World friendly) buffet meal they’d laid on for lunch.

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As if things weren’t weird enough one of the PR team pointed out that things have changed a little since I last visited and that there’s now a MASSIVE life size photo of me (taken at the ball last November) on the wall in the Miles Bramwell suite!

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I don’t think I’ve ever seen a static image of myself this big on any wall anywhere and I couldn’t help but take a photo.

My partner was also barely able to contain her glee and immediately bounded toward the wall like a Labrador chasing 20 tennis balls.

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That woman absolutely flipping LOVES Rylan Clarke-Neal…

The day wasn’t about me (or him) though. It was about the selection of the new Slimming World Man of the Year 2019 – and everywhere I looked there were nervous hopefuls flanked by their anxious consultants. Every last one of them were desperately trying to remember their five minute speeches whilst no doubt dealing with their own inner demons.

The field of contestants was a little smaller this year than last. The 2019 crowd had already been whittled down to a group of 37 (although oddly I only count 34 here) before the day.

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Crazily the same statistic from last year was in evidence – and the guys in this photo had lost an incredible average of OVER TEN STONE each.

As was the case for the MOTY event that I attended last year a random footballer (whom the ladies nearby had to tell me the name of) was the guest of honour. Apparently he’s quite famous – so I assume that my proximity will make other men rather jealous.

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Truthfully I was completely clueless – although I will say that Ex England International Emile Heskey did seem (as did Ex England International John Barnes last year) like a lovely fellow – and had a killer handshake to go with his rather imposing stature.

You can’t see his feet here – but he was wearing heels.

I’m actually taller.

He’s a midget.

True story.

I have to say that the event brought back a LOT of memories – but this time the pressure was definitely a lot less than the first and second times I had visited HQ. Now I was standing there as the 3rd greatest loser 2018 and the returning Man Of The Year 2018, rather than a nervous contestant.

Now no-one could take anything away from me and instead this time around I got to sit where my judges sat before – which was behind the groups listening to the stories of the contestants.

Hearing these brought a lot of feelings to the surface.

Some of them are because I remember only too well the pain these guys felt in life. I’ve been bullied like they have. I’ve suffered the same health conditions they too have pushed into remission. I’ve been told I’m incapable of doing things because I’m too big and like them now I can do anything I want. I’ve struggled to find clothes but now walk into any shop and wear what I want just like them.

I’ve also felt the continual rebuke of a toxic parent like many had done, lived through the consequences of how worthless they made us feel and recognised the sense of lost opportunity and wasted time that many of them were still struggling with.

Every one of these personal humiliations and regrets are with me all the time in the background. They’re my continual dark passengers – and when life is hard they ring the bell on my bus, sometimes causing it to stop or swerve.

Occasionally they cause the wheels to fall off completely.

Just like me though all of these men chose another way – and whilst none of us will ever be ‘cured’ (who is?) they now have the tools to build a better life that’s free from pain and humiliation.

Furthermore they now have a platform from which they can shout aloud if they wish. They can go on social media and back to their groups with their heads held high and evangelise about what’s possible with loud, happy, positive voices.

Or if they prefer they can just quietly get on with life and silently inspire those who are watching from the sidelines.

They certainly inspired me – hopefully in the same way I’d inspired some of them.

We all need a reminder of why we try each and every day to be better people and these guys certainly did that for me.

My part in the proceedings wasn’t without it’s responsibilities mind you because my function this year was primarily to speak to the assembled crowd both at the start and near the close of events.

This is a difficult speaking engagement – because I didn’t want it to be about me and what I’d done to win the award last year. They already knew how hard it had been to lose weight.

I didn’t need to tell any of them that.

Instead I felt it was vitally important to get across the point that no-matter what happened that day every single man in that room has changed their life for the better and in doing so they had almost certainly changed the lives of others.

They were all already winners.

I had more to say though – because it what comes next for them (and many other target members who go to a group each week) is no longer about a race to a goal weight. It’s now about the start of an ongoing and never ending battle.

This award (and reaching target) isn’t the punctuation mark at the close of a journey. In many ways it’s capital letter on another page at the start an entirely new chapter – because now they all have to live with the sometimes difficult reality of getting what they’ve always wanted.

They’ve made it.

They’re standing on the top of their personal mountain.

But what comes next?

The bigger question they’ll all have to address now is how to live a life that wasn’t available to them before, and how live with being a source of inspiration for others without being undermined by their inner monologues. Each and every one of them has a new voyage to embark upon – and that’s one of weight maintenance combined with continual minute adjustments to their self image and self worth.

Now they rebuild.

They can all do it though.

I know they can.

They have the support of their groups and their consultants as well as people at home that love them.

I did make it a little personal though.

I couldn’t help myself.

I told the room that just after winning last year I randomly met my partner doing something I’d never been capable of without losing my weight. I told everyone listening that I was in love and that the greatest boon of the whole experience was not the award I’d received but what it had enabled for my future.

I got to tell them what it all meant, how happy it had made me and then I gave them all their awards and shook their hands.

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It doesn’t get much better than that does it?

Not everyone can win though and shortly after the presentations the judges read out the names of the men that would move forward to the last part of the proceedings.

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This was the final group of ten – and every last one of them was a worthy winner.

As is always the case it’s practically impossible to guess in advance of an announcement who will take home the title – but you can usually tell who’s in with a chance because they have the ability to make you laugh at the same time as make you cry and the eventual winner certainly did that.

I spoke to many, shook hands with all, and even gave out my phone number in one case, because (I have to be honest) I feel a sense of kinship with these people. If ever they need my advice or help they only have to ask.

I won’t be mentioning his name here, because that will soon appear in the media, but I will say that (along with many other guys yesterday) he truly deserved both the award he received and the recognition of his achievements from all those involved.

So – that’s almost the end of a my period as Slimming World’s MOTY 2018. Once I’ve been to the ball in November as the outgoing recipient I’ll probably be quietly getting on with my life in blissful anonymity.

I’ve handed the baton over to the next man. I hope he runs like the wind with it and I wish him all the luck in the world.

2019 and the rest of his life will never be the same again.

Davey

Just a state of mind

I have lots of aspirations.

I’m not an ambitious person though – at least not from a career perspective.

I’ve never wanted power, wealth, money, fame or status in life and so far I think those are the right choices.

I was convinced for the longest time that this mean I was without aspiration – but it’s not true, because I just aspire to being OTHER things in life.

I aspire to being happy, to have good friends surrounding me, to be loved, feeling love in return and being content in my own skin.

I work at all of these as I bumble through life. Sometimes I get it right and sometimes I get it wrong. Recently I have more than enough evidence that the contentment bit needs work.

The truth of it is that to be loved you have to feel the same way about yourself, otherwise you’re just someone in need of an above average level of fixing.

Everyone is helped by others – but what I mean is that exuding confidence (not too much though) is fundamentally attractive.

Sometimes you can fake it – but long term I believe it comes from confronting head on the things that make you doubt yourself.

I’m probably more confident now that I’ve ever been in my life – and that’s mostly because I did a few key things.

  • I started sharing myself, my failures and my successes with the world, thereby removing any fear of being ‘found out’ at a later date or appearing weak in public
  • I gave up drinking, lost weight and forced myself to confront my demons without using food and drink as comforters
  • I work on improving my ‘sober, fit and outgoing’ persona every day

The truth is that you are never completely stuck being just one type of person unless you believe you’re incapable of being different.

No-one that has a fear of heights is incapable of jumping out of an aeroplane. The only difference between the person in the plane and the person on the ground looking up at them is a willingness to confront what scares you.

You can learn to be many things in life.

It’s probably true that I’m a ‘fake it till I make it’ kind of guy on occasion – because some aspects of public speaking still trouble me and I can’t completely switch them off.

Today when I write about aspiration I mean that I aspire to total body confidence – because it’s not 100% there yet.

I would love not to worry or care about what people might think of me undressed and I’m aware that this has at times led me to over compensate in the clothes department.

I own a lot of clothes.

If I subscribed to gender stereotypes (I don’t) then this would place me in a different sex bracket. However one of the reasons I don’t believe in definable gender traits is that I don’t know ANY women with as many clothes as me.

I think my need to always look smart and presentable (which is perfectly normal and not a problem – I enjoy doing this) is because I can control the image people see of me with different styles of clothes and largely be whoever I want to be.

I can be casual, daring, dapper or fun loving with the flick of a clothes hanger and I love that about wearing new things – even though I may not always take the items I really want to the checkout….

Now that my changed body shape has enabled this kind of casual experimentation I can choose to be a peacock or a pigeon.

I can decide to blend in or stand out at will – and that’s a powerful gift to give oneself when you’ve been bullied all your life because of how you look.

When I first started losing weight this was a constant problem (link) and as it’s progressed I’ve tagged a few posts where it’s either happened in public or I’ve been affected by the emotional baggage that remains (link).

The confidence of knowing I look ‘normal’ in clothes enables me to make a conscious choice about whether or not I want to invite comment.

The power has been placed back into MY hands when I do this.

When I was bullied in the past because of my size and called names I had no control and people with smaller minds than me continually manipulated my emotional state without warning and in public.

Now I’m confident enough to put on a flamboyant jacket and go out looking like a piece of modern art because I know that when eyes fall upon me they’re falling on my clothes and my personal choices.

I saw a wonderful pair of shoes at the ball last Saturday worn by someone who has just accepted a proposal of marriage.

His happiness, confidence and flamboyance just made me smile.

His shoes still make me grin – not just because they look ace – but because I too would wear them.

There was another guy with the most amazing embroidered green tuxedo – and he looked so awesome I had to go up and tell him he looked incredible!

They are me now. I don’t wear quite such flamboyant things yet – but I can if I want to and almost certainly will in the future.

If people don’t like what I choose to put on my body who cares?

I will wear what makes me happy – but it’s an important distinction to make that this is also my choice.

I am choosing by placing loud clothes on my body and accepting that this may invite comment – both good or bad. In doing so I’m fundamentally saying to the world by doing so to that I’m confident enough not to care what people say to me.

This way of thinking is a world apart from the mindset of bullied me.

His mood was always dictated by idiots that confirmed his worst fears continuously about how everyone looked at him (link) and he largely lived in constant fear.

Today I do NOT and I love that about myself.

I genuinely do.

I love that I can walk into a room in a suit and draw admiration because I look good.

That’s not me being egotistical or conceited (at least I hope not) because often it doesn’t matter what people think.

The decision I make about how good I look comes well before they ever provide feedback.

It arrives before I leave the house, as I stand looking at myself in the mirror. Right there in that moment I decide that I FEEL good.

When you feel good then you look good. You carry yourself differently and you maintain eye contact.

So…

What is it that I aspire to if everything is so lovely?

I want to feel the same about myself without clothes – because in that scenario I have no control over how people see me and the only armour I can wear exists in my own mind.

There’s so much ‘wrong’ with my body after huge weight loss that I could spend a lifetime of pain and surgery ‘fixing’ it.

If I make one ‘fixed bit’ however I’m pretty sure that the rest will just look bad in comparison.

Where do you stop? It just goes on and on and won’t fix low self esteem.

I also fundamentally disagree with this as a way to live my life.

I do not want to cut bits off myself because they are inconvenient and throw them in the bin.

It’s worth pointing out that one day I may change that perception and if I do then it’s my right to do so – however I hope that I don’t – because I suspect if I do start down that road it will be because I’ve become more concerned with what other people think of me than I am of my own self image.

At the moment I see that as failure but who knows how I’ll view it in the future.

It’s difficult though – when I know that the first question almost everyone wants to ask me (when I speak publicly about my journey) is about skin and what’s left behind after dramatic weight loss.

I know (because of this) that if I go swimming or take my clothes of for more (ahem) intimate reasons that I’m probably going to be confronted with the same reductive value judgements and that will require a strong man to deal with the resulting emotions.

Maybe even a stronger one than I am currently.

I still need to pluck up the courage to go swimming and that doesn’t seem to be happening any time soon…

So – this is my project.

It’s the thing that I want to work on the most.

I will get better at this internet and I will grow my confidence – just like everything else I’ve learned to get better at.

This is just a state of mind and I’m going to learn to have it.

Davey

Separated by carpet

Sometimes a bad day is a bad day. There’s absolutely no avoiding one when it really hits and occasionally it might seem like the fates are intent on conspiring to make you feel miserable.

At other times however there’s more going on – and people often fail to see the truth.

They can make and then perpetuate their own misery – becoming trapped by it as the years roll by.

Yesterday was a nice day.

By that I mean it was hot, oppressive and full of thunderstorms or rain but heat doesn’t bother me any more and I like rain.

I love the sound it makes when it’s really heavy.

I started the day getting burned though – and quickly realised that going out in a teeshirt without any sun cream was a bad idea.

It seemed cloudy enough – but clearly cloud is only half of the picture and today my forearms are still itching.

It didn’t matter at the time though because I was wearing red.

For those who are newer readers I’ve always had an uneasy relationship with this colour and avoided it in case it singled me out for bullying. This used to be a common occurrence (link) but one day it seemed to stop (link) and since then I’ve adopted red as my favourite colour (link).

It’s not so much because of what I look like wearing it – but more about how it makes me feel.

I feel strong when I dress in red because of its symbolism.

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Strength was definitely needed at the start of the day too – because I was walking around the Warwick food festival.

Although I could probably eat a lot of the things there and work them off I’d already had my ‘Saturday off plan’ (which is becoming something of a regular thing).

This post weigh in day of weekly culinary relaxation only works if I’m willing to then draw a line shortly afterwards.

If I carry on eating then I doubt it will stop in time for next weekend’s weigh in.

As lovely as all the food looked I don’t think a massive frying pan full of sausages is for Davey any more…

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So I kept walking.

My objective (as always) was to build the miles and keep going until the scales (at least in my mind) were balanced – and around 8 miles later I sat down for a rest.

I was in a good mood. I’d done lots of exercise and I’d smashed my daily goals.

Fortuitously this happened just before the heavens opened – and as I sat in the window of a friendly hostelry drinking a coffee whilst watching the rather Biblical deluge outside I started listening to the couple next to me – who were also looking at the same scene.

The lady and her partner were separated from me only by carpet – but in attitude they couldn’t have been more different.

The woman looked angry.

Her whole body seemed to be coiled and ready to strike the first person to enter her personal space.

The skin on her knuckles was whiter than the rest of her hands and both were being clenched and unclenched.

‘She doesn’t deserve that job. I make her life possible by working for her. She’s a waste of space.’

The man nodded and sipped his wine. He looked tired and drawn and although generally slender had a large beer belly.

‘I hate her.’ Said the lady, also drinking wine, slim and in possession of a rotund middle.

A waitress came over to tidy the table that they were on and the lady whispered something to her – most of which I missed.

‘…and don’t think I’m being funny with you – it’s not your fault. It’s your manager’s.’ She looked behind the waitress, motioning at an unseen space behind her where no-one stood.

‘No-where to be seen. Makes me sick…’ she finished as her words once more returned to audible levels.

The waitress nervously smiled, said sorry for whatever the problem was and shuffled away.

‘It’s the same everywhere.’ The lady hissed to her partner, after the waitress had retreated. He remained silent and continued to look out of the window at the downpour – which by this time had turned the street into a shallow river.

They exist because of us.’ Said the lady under her breath. ‘They wouldn’t have a job without us.’ She concluded – by this time almost growling.

The man stoically looked out of the window – and I turned up my playlist.

I was buying some summery tracks on iTunes and making a happy collection of tracks to walk home with while I waited for the rain to subside.

I had an umbrella but I like to walk without one and feel my arms swing back and forth.

I had my feet on the low windowsill in front of me and was flexing my toes in my trainers to the beat of my music.

People were rushing by outside in soaking wet tee-shirts and many were laughing at how ridiculously drenched they were. Above the volume of my headphones I could still hear peals of thunder as flashes of lightning briefly illuminated the suddenly dark street in front of me.

The heat was ebbing out of the afternoon with each raindrop though and the air was slowly beginning to cool.

I looked across the carpet to my right again – and could see the pursed lips of the woman silently moving as she talked to her companion.

I could no longer hear the words but her body language spoke volumes.

Whatever private hell she’d constructed in her mind was still in full flow. Her obvious feeling that someone else in life had what she deserved was busy consuming her.

The man sat in silence and I wondered how many times he’d heard this speech or a variation of it.

He looked like he knew that the quickest way to bring it to a conclusion was not to react, and instead just to let it flow over him whilst waiting for a change in the wind.

I’ve seen that face before – in my childhood home as my father, my brother and myself waited for the storms surrounding my mother to subside and for blue skies to re-appear.

They rarely did though. The skies mostly remained cloudy and we were always separated by this.

By carpet.

Just carpet and perspective.

That was all that stood between us.

A stretch of worn rug, trodden on by thousand of feet and aged with time – but combined with her outlook on life it might as well have been an ocean for the gulf it presented.

I was pulled back to the present as I re-focused on the scene in front of me, watching this bitterly unhappy woman looking through the same window with a totally different way of viewing the world.

She was bitter and her eyes showed that this emotion was no stranger to her life. The lines on her face bore little evidence of smiles and she seemed to be drinking her wine with anger – to fuel and enable her mood rather than to relax it.

All of a sudden there it was.

The end to the rain.

This event passed her by as she continued in her angry rant – and I doubt she saw the first shafts of sunlight hit the pavement in front of her.

She was still there and still angrily hissing through her teeth when I left half an hour later – and her husband/partner/friend still hadn’t said a word.

She’d not once asked him for his opinion – or sought through him another way of looking at the situation.

The only monologue she could hear was her own and she’d made at least two people unhappy in the process – as well as herself.

I marvelled at the energy it must have taken to remain that angry.

As I walked away and the physical gap widened between us I felt the cool breeze that had replaced the humid heat.

Everything looked fresh, and damp trees slowly dripped themselves dry onto the pavements below their shade.

The world felt renewed somehow – even though it was just the same but a little damper.

I walked home thinking about the gulf between myself and this woman – and how some find the gift of perspective whereas others never do.

I’ve no idea what causes people like my mother or her to remain rigidly unmoving and bitter throughout their lives – or what makes them so inflexible or incapable of change.

I’m glad that it’s not how I feel about the world though.

I’m glad I’m not angry and that I don’t feel continual resentment about what other people have and the things I don’t.

The truth is I have enough – and that’s all anyone needs. I am healthy and I am alive – and EVERYTHING else is a matter of perspective.

The past doesn’t matter – and neither does the future. I can influence it but I can’t control it and to think otherwise is folly.

It’s also better to live with an absence of want. If someone earns more than me then I wish them all the best and hope that it brings them happiness.

Money and possessions have never done this for me though.

I feel happy with a red tee-shirt that cost me £2 in a charity shop not because it’s a material possession – but because of the mental and physical change it represents.

It makes me feel happy because I worked hard to wear it and I chose to not just sit there and feel bitter that I couldn’t.

I got up and made my life better because I didn’t want to be like my mother – sitting at the opposite end of that carpet and separated from her by nothing.

Davey

Baldy

I’m a true believer that pretty much every cloud can (with the right attitude) be found to have a silver lining. 

It’s all about perspective. 

Today I was treated to a wonderful dose of this on my walk home from work as I strode past a large group of rowdy looking teenagers. They were all clustered round a bench and I had no choice but to walk close by to them to get to the exit point. 

I don’t like gangs of kids. 

Not because I’m worried about being physically accosted – but because I always used to be verbally abused

This has let me to usually avoid all eye contact and try to become mentally invisible when I encounter such groups and today was no exception. 

‘Be a leaf in the wind Dave…’ I thought. ‘Just ignore them.’

I looked at my feet as I drew nearer and it was then that I heard them whispering. I glanced to the side and could see four of them were staring at me. 

Then I heard one of them say ‘on the count of three all call him…’

My heart sank. Really? Was this shit still happening to me? Can’t idiots like this just let fat people get on with their lives without abusing them in the street?

They drew in their collective breath beneath their hoodies…

Oi! BALDY!!!’ They all shouted in unison as I passed close by. 

I almost stopped to reply, thought better of it, and continued along my way. 

Although I’ll admit it wasn’t a pleasant experience I don’t think they’d have been satisfied with the grin they produced on my face as I continued on my way. 

‘Baldy!’ 

How great is that?! 

Eighteen months ago I’d have been a a ‘fat c**t’ or a ‘fat b***ard’ but now I’m just ‘baldy’! I no longer merit abuse based on my dimensions – now they have to pick on my challenged cranial follicles instead!!!

Now that’s progress!


Davey

Generous comment

I woke up very early this morning – most probably because I also went to bed very early. 

I’ve noticed that a (probably inevitable) consequence of working all day AND fitting in 20,000 steps is meaning that on some days I’ve hit the sack at 8.30pm – which was what happened yesterday. 

Ostensibly I’d planned to read for a while – but instead woke up much later with my iPad unceremoniously resting on my nose. 

However – it turned out to be a really really good call, as by the time I’d had a shower and got dressed this morning the sun was streaming through the curtains. 

I decided to elongate my morning walk with a few more miles, and as I sit typing over a pre-work coffee I’m already at five miles and 10,000 steps for the day, so the effort required for the rest of the afternoon is pretty much removed – which is a real bonus as I need to do some work in the garden this evening. 

The park looked fantastic at 7.30am.  

I really wish I’d brought my camera along because it was squirrel and bird heaven today. They were everywhere – making nests and nibbling acorns. 

It’s a great day to be alive – and I realise that whereas I used to avoid the sun and my mood was constant (although probably constantly downbeat) now I find that like the rest of the world I’m happier when it’s brighter. 

My last (somewhat somber) post was on a grey, oppressive day with grim skies and a pressing humidity. I felt sluggish and the weather looked awful. The words probably reflected the weather.

Today I don’t feel that way at all. 


This is definitely a good thing, because I awoke to something interesting on Facebook. 

I’m often bowled over by people’s warmth and kindness. One of the outstanding things about the last 18 months has been without a doubt the positive support that people have given me on social media – and because of that this blog has been a significant turning point in my life. 

The boon of ‘putting myself out there’ on things like Instagram and WordPress is incredibly multi faceted though – and sometimes the friendship that’s extended comes presented in quite a different format. 

An Instagram post I’d also publicly shared on Facebook yesterday had been receiving some feedback. 



Occasionally in life people are so self aware and so generous of spirit that they KNOW already that meeting them in person would be a colossal mistake for anyone else, so they make absolutely sure that it won’t happen, and honestly it’s REALLY helpful. 

There’s nothing worse than being disappointed by someone you trusted – so finding out right at the beginning of a potential friendship that someone is a bit of a twit saves a lot of time. 

What I found most interesting about this post (now deleted – and not by me) was my reaction to it.

I’m not angry – or upset. 

This is really strange – because an early feature of my attempts to lose weight happened to be instances like this or this where random members of the public decided it made their day complete by calling me a fat **** whilst hanging out of cars or vans. 

Rarely did they slow their cars down enough in those days to be accountable for their opinions however – so I’d never know who they were if I met them again. 

At least this gentlemen has the decency to be absolutely open with his opinion and give me the benefit of avoiding him in the future. 

Win! 

There’s more to this incident though. In the past something like this might have buried my mood in a dark hole in the ground for ages – but you know what – it really doesn’t matter one little bit. 

Furthermore I wrote this NOT to push him into the limelight or draw anger from anyone toward him. I purposefully deleted his name because he probably has his own issues that are way worse than mine. 

I’m writing this because people just like me read this blog, and they too have probably been ‘impaled’ on the business end of this kind of comment in the past. 

You know what? 

It doesn’t matter. 

What matters is that you get up and keep trying every day to be better than you are now for YOU and not for them. 

You might be overweight now – but you can fix that. The odds are that whoever slighted you in whatever way will always be an idiot – and that’s a lot harder to remedy than dropping some cuddle muscle. 

So Internet – keep putting yourself out there, keep trying, and ignore anyone that has the potential to bring you down. 

You’re stronger than you think. You just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. 

Davey

An eye for detail

Last week I took another huge load of clothes to my chosen charity. 

It’s always a bittersweet moment for me because although it’s all for a good cause none of what I have left now represents ‘old money’. Around 65% of the items in those bags were purchases made within the last six months. 

It’s getting to the point again where items (some of which I’d begun to really like wearing) are now just baggy on me and make me feel almost as self conscious as things that appear too tight.  

A couple of weeks ago I made some ‘aspirational’ clothes purchases – but until now had only worn a jumper from my new collection, which are mostly hanging on the backs of chairs in my dining room. 

Today I decided to wear my new jeans. They’re a Sainsburys TU clothing branded 44in waist stonewashed dark blue with a straight cut leg, and after losing a good chunk of weight over the last week they fit me perfectly!

It’s a nice feeling to go for a walk in something that you feel completely at home in. It makes me realise that I often end up going for items that are already pretty loose to hide whatever supposedly offensive body parts that I worry about residing underneath. 

As I passed some workmen with a spring in my step I stopped to cross the road. 

‘Are they new jeans mate?’ One of them said with an impassive look on his face. 

Mildly surprised (and flattered) that the guy with a high visibility jacket seemed to be checking me out I smiled at him and said ‘Yes they are! New today actually!’ Thanks for noticing!’

‘You’ve got stickers on your arse.’ He said, pointing at my arse…

I reached behind me and felt around on my bum while he helpfully continued to indicate their approximate location with an extended index finger. 

There they were. 


I peeled them away and looked at the large dual proclamations that my clothing may dye furniture and was made ‘with stretch‘. 

I couldn’t help but laughing. In fact I couldn’t stop laughing. There’s nothing like a label on your posterior to bring you back down to earth!

I thanked the man, popped the stickers in a nearby bin and carried on walking. 

There was a time (not so very long ago) that someone dressed very much like that man would have been hanging out of a passing van calling me a ‘fat ***t’ – but now they’re helpfully telling me about colour transfer warnings on my hind quarters!

I’m not sure why I’m still laughing while I type – as it’s really silly – but it makes me happy to feel normal

I’m no longer apart from the world in other people’s eyes. I’m just another guy in cheap supermarket jeans with stickers on his arse and I love that. 

I really really love that internet. 

❤️

Davey

Fatman!

It often says more about the person making a judgement of someone else than it does about the person they’re judging.

We’re all basically a complex set of rules and mental flow charts designed (as we grow) to make sense quickly of the world around us. We categorise based on good or bad experience and because of this are able to make ever quicker complex judgements based on what happened to us in the past.

I used to get picked out and abused on the street a lot.

Newer readers may not be familiar with this aspect of my weight loss journey but it was a constant reminder of how people saw me and it stopped me from going out unless absolutely necessary for a long time before I joined Slimming World.

It was the subject of several posts (Link) (another link) (yet another link) and it happened so often back then often I mostly just kept my mouth shut and tried to move on. I would be abused by teenagers hanging out of moving cars, drunks, white van drivers and more often than not (although usually this was observational rather than malicious) children.

I was minding my own business in a shop today, looking at the items on the shelf in front of me and listening to some quiet, chilled jazz on my earphones.

Then behind me I heard an enthusiastic child.

Fat man!‘ He shouted really loudly.

I turned around.

Physiologically I noticed my pulse rate quicken, my cheeks flush with embarrassment and my temper begin to flare. My jaw had clenched and I was about to unleash a cold, hard stare at whichever hapless parent was in charge of the little swine behind me.

Until I saw the child.

He was excited, jumping up and down and happy, holding onto the hand of his dad as he dragged him toward a video game.

‘Look! Batman!! He repeated.

I unclenched everything – now annoyed with myself instead of him.

I’d mis-heard, then instantly leapt to judgement and filled in the blanks. I’d painted the mental picture I’d expected and in a heartbeat returned myself to a feeling that has been absent for many many months.

It wasn’t pleasant.

A few people have said to me lately ‘I’m not being funny – but you look normal now.’

Shortly after the words have left their mouths they then (all) falter a bit – desperate not to be simultaneously insulting and complimentary in the same breath.

I’m not insulted though – and I always appreciate their words because I know they come from a positive place. I also know from experience that it’s also sometimes pretty hard to say (without causing offence) that someone looks better now than they used to.

The underlying issue is that I still struggle to get my head around the concept that I no longer look ‘abnormal’ – which frankly I did before

Granted – there is no ‘normal’ – and if you parachuted me into the middle of a society not currently in the middle of an obesity epidemic that didn’t sell plus sized clothing of any kind I’d still stand out like a sore thumb.

At the moment though I’m a big guy – but maybe no longer unusually so.

I guess the question is when will this revelation sink in mentally – and how long will it take for this knee-jerk fight or flight response to children and white van drivers dissapear?

Like everything I suppose this will take time. In the meantime however I’ll have to console myself with the pleasant surprise that there are little geeks growing up in the world who also love Batman.

Let’s face it internet – Batman is cool but Lego Batman is just frozen in permafrost! 

Davey

A work in progress

Sometimes feelings from the past come back when you least expect them – and last night I was rudely reminded of how things used to be out in the big wide world.

After work, bothered by the thought of my impending weigh in on Saturday and about the number of miles I feel I haven’t walked this week I headed out for a brisk stroll to Leamington and back.

I was also busy trying to switch my brain off and filter all the useless and non-productive thoughts that go through my head (that I needlessly worry about) from the things I focus on less and actually need to consider more.

Although I’m generally positive I sometimes find that a healthy sense of perspective is a tricky thing to maintain. Like a lot of people I think that I’m often guilty of letting what are actually very small fears temporarily dictate my internal narrative and overwhelm all of the positive things in my life.

I find lately though that my thoughts always comes into better focus during exercise.

Maybe it’s the endorphins, maybe it’s the change of scenery, maybe it’s just coincidence.

As I walked it was working. My thoughts were collating, my grumbles had slipped away – I could see some clarity. My mood was improving.

Then all of a sudden I noticed what appeared to be a cigarette butt bouncing behind a passing car to the right of me and looked around. It’s orange embers and sparks were dying quickly as they spread out by my side.

Then there was a loud bang, and I realised that it wasn’t a cigarette – it was a firework.

I jumped – and was immediately jolted out of my train of thought.

As I looked after the car that was disappearing into the distance I realised I had no hope of getting the number plate. It was too far away and turning a corner. All that all I could tell was that it was a silver BMW.

It was gone moments after, and all I was left with was a raised pulse.

I’m not blowing this out of proportion. It was a banger. I wasn’t in danger. The people in the car were medical miracles – and living examples that human beings could against all odds survive brain donation.

Things happen, and there will always be idiots in life. I’m not of the opinion that all of a sudden my neighbourhood has become any more antisocial than it was the day before.

However – the event did something quite unexpected.

I immediately thought ‘They did that because I’m fat.’

Then I stopped for a minute. I’m still big – but I’m no longer standing out in crowds like I used to. I’m not that size any more. I’m no longer almost 35 stone.

At times though I’m instantly transported back to being that person. It’s like I’m still covered with his body – and occasionally I react with the same emotions and feelings he did. I expect the lingering looks that he received, and deep down I also think I’m going to receive the same abuse.

One of the questions I keep getting asked (when discussing the amount of weight I’ve lost) is ‘Do you feel different?’

I’ve always responded to this question with ‘Sure – I definitely do. I’m no longer carrying 11+ stone around with me. In every measurable way I feel physically healthier, fitter and more vital. I feel very different.’

However – when this question was asked of me earlier in the week by someone I’d only just met they replied to my usual response with ‘No – I mean, do you think the same way that you used to?’

It made me pause for a moment because I realised that I’d been answering this question for almost a year the same way because I’d been thinking about it the whole time solely in terms of my changing dimensions. To me the query was all about numbers, and detailing the effect of dropping the immense burden that I carried everywhere and which so drastically limited my mobility.

Then quite out of the blue I’ve been reminded that changing the outside doesn’t necessarily change the inside. Deep down I’m at times still dealing with a lifetime of incidents like this and this and this. What I sometimes feel is a seemingly endless history of abuse that stretches back to early childhood means that I still expect people to see me and react in a way that they probably no longer do.

The idiot with the firework is long gone – and I really couldn’t care less about him or her.

The universe will sort them out soon enough. Things have a way of balancing themselves out.

The person that lives within me though is still here, and occasionally I become him again – just for a brief moment.

The duration of the feeling though is not significant. The issue for me is that fact that it’s still present at all – and I don’t want it to be. I want instead to be a continually confident person – no longer tied to the past – and living his life completely free of worry about what will happen when he interacts with the world.

These days 90% of the time I manage it – and I hope that as months, and eventually years continue to pass that this ability will grow and grow until I one day I no longer second guess myself and don’t expect the uglier side of people to be directed at me without warning.

I look forward to it – but I’m clearly not there just yet.

In the meantime internet I’m changing my answer.

It’s now ‘Yes – I feel physically very different – but sometime it’s not so easy to forget who I used to be. I’m a work in progress.’

Davey

Feeling shirty

Well it’s the start of December – the run up to Christmas – and for almost everyone in the western world it’s something of a hurdle to overcome with regard to food and drink indulgence. For my own part I think my head is very much ‘in the game’ at the moment, and SO FAR I’m not going quietly mad thinking about mince pies or Christmas cake.

(The author flipping loves Christmas cake and would probably sell a grandparent for a bite of some if he had any remaining to put price tags on)

I do have a Slimming World festive cookbook though and I plan to use it during the build up to the 25th December, although I have not yet decided what I’m going to prepare..

In the meantime if I want motivation all I have to do is open my eyes and look around me for milestones and reminders of how different things are now. These are continually keeping me on track.

As it’s the start of the month I’ve exported all of my fitness data from Apple Watch. Although my walking has been lower this month (thanks to my shin splints which nailed me in November) I’m still making progress in the 847 mile virtual walk from Lands End to John o Groats that I’ve been working on (original post here).

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I think it’s pretty insane that since I started Slimming World I’ve walked almost 785 miles. Considering I barely left my armchair prior to joining my group it’s a pretty amazing turn around.

I also had the pleasure yesterday of dropping off the fourth (but not final) HUGE bin bag of clothes to Age UK’s charity shop in Warwick that no longer fit me.

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Although it pains me to part with them (I estimate this pile of massive shirts and jeans represents purchases totalling well over £400 and I’m somehow going to have to buy a whole load more soon) I’m glad they’re going to a good place and will help to pay for an elderly person’s care or Christmas lunch.

There are some mixed feelings associated with parting with my clothes though. I’ve noticed recently an unexpected sentimentality related to items in my life that I feel have ‘helped’ me on my journey. My clothes hide a lot and have a tough life containing their expansive cargo.

I have taken a lot of photos of myself over the last few months in order to document my progress and ‘normalise’ my self image in my head. When I look at this pile and the photos I’ve posted in the past they all represent much happier memories than I expected, even when they are also associated with pain and embarrassment.

All of the above shirts hidden in the pile are little milestones in themselves. My striped blue 7x was what I was wearing when (not that long ago) I went to Birmingham on the train for the first time in years. I also remember regretting wearing it in the museum. My back was drenched in sweat and due to the colour of the shirt I felt it was really obvious. I had to stand with my back to a fan for 20 minutes to dry off.

My striped black shirt was something that I’d bought for a Christmas party many years before and it had only just become accessible to me again. I wore it to proudly march into Leamington to visit the pump room museum (which I’d never been to before because I couldn’t stand still for long periods). I was feeling pretty good about myself and puffed up with pride – then just as the thought passed through my mind I was immediately and comically brought back down to earth when I was crapped on by a pigeon.

My loud Hawaiian shirt (which due to it’s breezy translucency allowed me to burn all over my shoulders and chest in the sunshine) was what I wore to visit my friend at her Leamington ‘Art in the Park’ stall during the summer. I was hurting a lot from standing up mostly still that afternoon, but all of the pain melted away when later that evening I looked at the picture and unexpectedly saw my belt hanging down. It underlined immediately how much I’d lost at that point.

My blue check shirt (in the picture with my dad) was what I wore when visiting Aberystwyth. I climbed Constitution Hill for the first time in about 17 years in that shirt – but then simultaneously later that evening had one of my lowest points being abused by people because of my size and appearance as I walked around town.

The other black striped grandad shirt is just funny because I have a plum in my mouth.

Heh. Plums. Snigger.

So – today I’m in a great mood. I feel shamelessly and disgustingly proud of what I’ve done so far, and despite my innate British stiff upper lip and inbuilt reserve I feel like hopping up and down in the middle of the coffee shop that I’m currently sitting in.

It’s also partially due to the music I’m listening to – which propelled me at a frantic rate whilst walking here. It’s a freely available mashup of the Beastie Boys and Daft Punk by Coins (shared by Brumrah on Facebook a while ago). If you like either of their musical genres then you will love this. This best track I think is also on YouTube (if you fancy listening) here:

And that’s it for me today. The hunt for work must continue, as must my afternoon’s exercise.

Oh – and one other thing internet. I’m still experimenting with my Metformin (my type 2 diabetes medication) and I have currently brought my dose down from four a day with one Glimepiride to one Metformin in the morning and one in the evening.

I’m not being stupid about this. I’m gradually testing myself over several weeks to see what this does to my blood sugar and so far it’s doing… NOTHING. I’m still right where I should be (5.1 this morning).

I plan to keep it at this level for a few weeks and make sure that it’s not because it takes a while to have an effect. More to come on this in the coming weeks…

Davey

Horses, owls and a parrot

Today is the start of operation ‘Get Back On Track’.

While I might have been ‘happy’ with my weight maintain yesterday at Slimming World I’m only OK with it because I plan to make sure I make up for it this week.

Yesterday would have been a tough day to start. Not only did I still feel really crappy but it absolutely POURED with rain all day long. I only realised how awful it was outside yesterday evening when I saw a gondola gently sail past my front window followed by a fishing boat.

(Note – author has flights of fancy and an over active imagination. He actually lives on a quiet residential street with zero nearby waterways.)

This morning however is a very different kettle of fish.

The forecast for the whole day is sunshine – and when there isn’t a clear sky there will be little fluffy white clouds with more sunshine. After that sunshine is expected, which is highly likely to be followed by more sunshine.

A regular follower of this blog who likes outdoor Kindle reading in sandals will note that the UK is experiencing rather good weather of late and is an ideal travel destination.

Honestly no-one is more surprised than I am!

So – it was clearly time for a walk, and nothing motivates my movement more than the promise of coffee, which also seems to suit a Sunday morning unbelievably well. I set off in search of it. With a flask of coffee… well… because… well… you just can’t have enough coffee.

As I briskly moved toward town, looking at the blue skies I couldn’t help but think that sometimes a day appears to just develop a theme all of its own. Initially I’d thought it would be the onset of autumn (due to all the leaves falling down around me) but it turned out instead to unquestionably be animals.

With my jaunty exercise playlist propelling me forward as I moved down the hill I felt good, and wanted a record time on my first mile. I need to get it well under 20 minutes (this has so far eluded me) so I can eventually cram more into shorter times. The eventual goal is four miles in an hour.

As I strode ever faster I could could hear a strange distortion on my headphones. I played with the volume. Nope – the noise was real. It sounded like hooves.

I turned around and approaching behind me was a herd/pack/posse/team/group (or whatever the collective name is for them) of around 15 horse riders. There were some absolutely lovely animals – all slowly clip-clopping down the hill at a pace that made it possible to walk alongside them for a short while and say hello to the riders while I took pictures.

The horses were a wide variety of colours and in a two by two formation with one solo guy bringing up the rear. The club all seemed really happy and were saying hello with big smiles as they passed.

Soon they overtook me as the gradient levelled out and when they reached the bottom of the hill they all broke into a canter and headed (like myself) toward Leamington.

As I too got closer to the bottom of the hill I realised how much energy I suddenly felt I had when ‘The Edge of Glory’ by Lady Gaga popped up in my playlist and my speed increased. Maybe having a few days off has been a good thing after all. I felt like I had legs full of Duracell batteries!

It doesn’t seem all that long ago that I couldn’t walk to Leamington without sitting down. Today I wanted to make another little milestone – which is not stopping for a breather at all on the way. When I do pause it’s usually really short (maybe 30secs?) but it irritates me that I have to stop at all. I want it to be continuous.

Today on the way in I did it with only three pauses and it took me just over 35 minutes to walk the 1.7 miles to the top of town.

I stopped before reaching the coffee shop because unexpectedly there was a market on the high street and the roads had been closed to vehicles. My attention had been instantly drawn to a sign saying that there was a bird of prey display further up the road.

Coffee could wait. I love birds!

When I arrived it wasn’t quite what I expected. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about so many captive wild birds on public display, but they were obviously being cared for well by the Central England Reptile Rescue & Bird Of Prey Sanctuary (website). Each bird seemed healthy and quite calm – so I can only assume that they’re used to seeing lots of people.

All had different reasons for why they had ended up in captivity. Few of them had been born in the wild (one for instance was bred in a prison as part of a birds of prey inmate rehabilitation program) – but the one thing they all had in common was that they were undeniably beautiful. I’ve seen owls before but never such a variety in one place – most breeds of which I don’t think I have never seen before.

There was a Tawny Owl, a Little Owl, a Kestrel (who was very camera shy and wouldn’t look at me), A Snowy Owl, A Barn Owl and a Great Horned Owl.

According to their Facebook page this group do try to release wild animals back into their natural habitat if at all possible – and the man there genuinely seemed to care for them. I guess when it comes down to it they need money like anyone else and this is a good way to educate people and get donations.

I don’t normally give money on a whim to people on the street, but I couldn’t help putting a few pounds in the collection box. Caring for these truly stunning birds can’t come cheap and they need to be protected at all costs in my view.

Shorty after a punnet of fresh strawberries (two pounds from a local grower’s stall further down the street) and a large coffee from Starbucks I headed home.

I hadn’t managed to get under the 20 minute mile barrier on the way DOWN the hill, but after walking around the shops for a while I was warmed up. I wondered wether I could get home without stopping for a breather at all, and make the whole journey as brisk as I could make it.

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When I stopped the clock (rather breathlessly) on my doorstep I had actually managed to hit my target of not stopping AND get under 20 minutes in the averages! For some weird reason I was faster uphill than I was on the way down (although I wasn’t photographing horses on the way back!)

I’m pretty pleased that despite still not feeling 100% I’m definitely ‘cooking on gas’ again (a phrase beloved by my well travelled father) and a few miles closer to kicking the ass of the scales next Saturday!

Finally – as I mentioned before, sometimes the day seems to tangibly present a topic, and it’s as if I’m being invited to write or think a certain way.

When I sat down to begin this post a radio programme caught my ear in the background (Bookclub on Radio 4. Yes – I’m THAT dynamic).

It was about birds. Specifically birds of prey.

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Helen MacDonald, author of ‘H is for Hawk’ was talking about her love of falconry, and how she used the training of a Sparrow Hawk after the death of her father to get over the grief she felt overwhelmed by when he died.

It was a fascinating insight about how we can identify with certain creatures in times of crisis, and she talked candidly about her wish that she was cold and emotionless like her bird, who just got on with life regardless of the death that was it’s every day reality. She also shared how for several years she lived frugally off the land with very little income while the animal hunted for her and regularly provided the main ingredient of rabbit stew.

Although she cared for and trained the bird it almost seemed that during the period of her bereavement it was the dominant party in their relationship. Through it’s emotionless relationship with its surroundings it enabled her when she felt at her lowest to connect with the world.

It doesn’t require a bird of prey to give an entry point into society however. The author also had an interesting anecdote about meeting a man walking down a busy street with a parrot on his shoulder.

When she approached him to interact with the bird she talked briefly to the owner, and he explained why he walked around in public with his unusual companion.

‘I’m painfully shy.’ He said.

‘But surely you must realise that walking around with a parrot on your shoulder means people will keep coming up to you?’ she replied.

‘Yes’ He said ‘but there aren’t coming to talk to ME – they are coming to talk to HER.’

He was using his bird just like she was, to maintain a relationship with the world even if he himself felt unable to interact with it.

It struck me at many points today how complex our relationships with animals are, why they enter our lives, and what we get from them. I must admit this afternoon to feeling that in part I understand this lady (and to an extent the guy with the parrot).

I had another idiot hanging out of a car calling me fat on the way back up the hill – ironically enough just as I was breaking the 20 minute barrier and doing something to improve my life.

I guess I should expect it. It’s been several weeks since I was last abused, and I can’t seem to go too long without it happening.

Sometimes internet people are really crap – but all of the beautiful, proud horses and stunning owls (and dogs – there have been lots of dogs!) today have made me feel as if it doesn’t matter, and that I’m right to just be focused on my task, and driving myself forward one step at a time.

They don’t care if someone calls them a name – they just get on with life.

Today I’m an owl. People can look at me as much as they like. I don’t care. I’m still ace.

Davey

It’s all lies

nelson

Something that’s never ceased to amaze me is just how many people think it’s cool to hang out of a car and call someone names.

It’s happened to me as long as I can remember – and in many ways it’s something I now accept as a fact of life, but can drastically change my mood.

I have almost developed a spider sense for when it’s going to happen these days and when I hear a car slow I know something akin to ‘you fat c**t’ isn’t far behind.

While this anti social behaviour is both embarrassing and threatening it’s far from the worst thing that happens.

After all – these stupid people driving stupid cars with stupid exhausts playing stupid music while driving stupidly can reasonably be expected to be stupid.

Laws of natural selection suggest that eventually they will meet a car coming the other way driven by someone similar and I’m fine with that. Totally on board. Knowing that karma has a good chance of catching up with them helps.

They’re legion however, and appear to have a high birth rate so this doesn’t diminish the frequency of such an event.

This happens to me every few weeks when I least expect it. Usually when I am on my own – often when I’m walking outside.

I use platitudes to overcome it such as ‘I’m the bigger man.’ (note the self deprecating humour built into this for another personal joke at my expense) or ‘its beneath me’ and the all time great ‘I’m used to it – it doesn’t bother me.’

It’s all lies mind you. Absolute bollocks.

Happiness evaporates in seconds on these occasions and I play the event over and over in my head for hours and hours afterwards, even if I lie to other people and say I’m really ok. Usually I’m saying that to stop them feeling bad, not because it’s true.

Sometimes this makes me stay indoors, other times I am more resilient.

Sadly it’s not confined to idiots in cars and it’s much harder to deal with the innocent.

Children say what they see and often tell their parents about unusual goings on nearby. They choose their timing wisely and for maximum effect usually wait until crowds appear in supermarkets.

‘Mommy – look at that fat man!’ is a common comment – probably sitting at number one in the top 3.

‘Mommy look at that man’s tummy!’ comes in around number two, while ‘Why is that man so fat mommy – is it because he eats a lot?’ probably gets number 3.

Parents invariably have zero idea how to handle this and probably out of sheer embarrasment often choose to ignore it altogether.

The opposite approach just makes it worse. This involves disciplining the child gently in full earshot of everyone else in a checkout queue, ensuring that attention is drawn to the subject for anyone that missed it the first time round.

Presumably they do this for my benefit, as well as to make their little darling a better human being and to ensure he isn’t hanging out of a car hurling insults in later life.

The polar opposite of the vocal kids there are staring ones. These little guys are just in awe of whatever they behold and can’t tear their eyes away. Again parents deal with this one of two ways – ignore or chastise.

The ignores are bad. Children do NOT stop staring. EVER.

I decided to handle this years ago by staring back, until I realised that you can’t win and they’ll never back down. They take you staring at them as acceptance that what they’re doing is OK.

Plus it makes you appear like a member of the Jimmy Saville fan club, which is not a good look.

So basically it’s either option one – focus on the floor or the task at hand and pretend it never happened (my current weapon of choice) or option two – go full WMD on the issue and start deploying the F bomb or some other finely crafted PG-13 words.

Option two in the past (with the mobile idiots) has caused a car to reverse and start following me. It’s not suitable for streets. I always use option one.

Similarly, challenging a child (even with PG-13 language) is like kicking a fresh turd in a parent’s face and they will always (naturally) protect their young. It rarely works if you tackle the parent instead of the child either. After all ‘kids will be kids’.

So. Endure it. That’s what I’m left with.

Endure the humiliation of it over and over until I change and look more like the people who belittle me.

Just once I’d really like to walk through a shop, park, supermarket or shopping mall and not feel like I was being evaluated this way, because honestly I can’t remember how it feels to not be noticed.

Davey