Apples and Oranges

One of the downsides, and there are many, of spending three months indoors writing books all day and drinking beer all evening, is that when you finally emerge into the public domain (unlike your book, which will probably spend months in some dusty office being manhandled by a bespectacled chap who likes to use the word neoliberalism far too often) your body has likely changed shape, as if by some strange mutation. You might have a flat arse, for example, the result of sitting on it for hours on end. Or your neck may be extended—not like a giraffe’s, which is elegant and lithe, but like a subterranean humanoid creature that has grown up in the drainage system and has learnt to crane its neck to unfathomable lengths in order to sniff the relative fresh air of the street, like an X-Files killer. In my case—and I blame my family’s peculiar genetics (I’m certain we share DNA with certain varieties of apple), my belly takes on the size and shape of a Christmas ham. I should have seen it coming. It did occur to me several weeks ago that I was having trouble not only tying my shoes but even reaching the laces. It also occurred to me that I was no longer sitting upright on the couch when watching cable news, but was lounging sideways like one of those people sometimes featured on cable news who is unable to move from the couch to the bed without the aid of a hoist. I noted these changes—but not enough. The truth is, the mutation doesn’t really bother me until I go back out into the public eye. And even then it doesn’t really occur to me until the first person glances down from my eyes to my torso and then struggles to avoid the autonomic ‘Holy hell, is that real or are you wearing a Santa fat suit?’ response.

Well, it is real, and I’m sorry but it travels with me wherever I go. Even if I was inclined to delude myself that it is not as big as it is, I have friends who are eager to point out there is a belly sitting in my lap that wasn’t there before. Accentuating the problem is my penchant for wearing close-fitting black T-shirts. I bought my last batch of 20 in late 2019 and they fit like a glove. They still fit like a glove … but a rubber glove, fitted onto a very fat hand with chubby little fingers. I could change my wardrobe, I suppose, but that would require a rebrand. Heck, you’ll be suggesting I stop drinking beer next.

The truth is, one can’t look like Thor from Dark World one’s entire life. There comes a time when he has to accept that from this point on he will probably look like Fat Thor from Endgame. Which has given me an idea for how to respond if people continue to point out the beer belly: I’ve taken up acting, and I’m bulking up for a role.

‘As what?’ someone will no doubt say. ‘A Granny Smith?’