Mention of Freddie Mercury also reminds me that 1990 was also the year that my dad died of a sudden and wholly unexpected heart attack. He was 51, the same age that I will be on August 11th. And, as I've written about in previous posts, it still hasn't quite sunk in that I will soon be older than he ever was.
Yep, that's him on the left at the age of 50 and me on the right at the same age. And who looks the healthiest? The clue is in the number of chins.
The idea that I will soon be older than Dad ever was is unsettling. Firstly, it forces me to realise my true age. In my head, Dad is an older man, beardy, grey and mature. In my head I'm in my 20s and still have a chance at being the saviour of rock and roll. It's something of a smack in the jowls to suddenly realise that anyone who is in their 20s probably now sees me as an old man. Sheesh. That's my ladykiller days gone for a burton.
The second thing that reality twats me with is mortality. I don't want to die quite yet. I've got lots to do. Hell, I've never even been to New York, one of my great ambitions that I've never quite had the time, money or opportunity to fulfil. And yet, what am I doing towards lengthening my life? Not very much I'm afraid. Yes, I packed in smoking the same year that Dad died. And yes, I no longer do the silly dangerous Jackass type things that I used to do. But I am unfit and hugely overweight. And that isn't good. People say to me, 'Ah, stop worrying! Life's too short. You could be hit by a car tomorrow!' To them I say, 'But there's no sense it making it even shorter is there? And, while I could get knocked down by a car, I increase the likelihood if I act recklessly. By carrying all this excess weight, I'm practically lying across the fecking carriageway.' All of this means that I knew, with utter certainty, that I needed to lose weight. But there was always that party or that event or that dinner invite that I conveniently used to sabotage my plans.
And then, two things happened. The first was that my eldest daughter Sarah (above) got married. And when the wedding photos came back, I felt awful. There she is, looking gorgeously glamorous and princess-like. And there's me, looking like a dugong stuffed into a suit. And the fattest dugong in the river at that. It almost made me feel as if I'd ruined her wedding photos (believe me, there are far worse than the one above - especially when I'm sat down and the belly gets to spread itself). And then, about a week ago, the BBC added to my shame. I saw this link was buzzing around Twitter and decided to follow it as it looked interesting. It took me to part of the BBC News website where you can find out how you stack up against people elsewhere in the world in terms of your Body Mass Index (BMI); your height to weight ratio. I popped my details into the boxes fully expecting to be told that, at 5'10" and 19st 6lbs, that I was morbidly obese and probably American (no offence intended to my many American chums but obesity is even more of an epidemic in the USA than here. It takes a food-heavy country to make a show like Man versus Food when kids are starving to death just across the sea). What came back was 100% more damning.
I was told that I have a BMI of 39 and was most like a person from Micronesia. But, more than that, I was also told that 'You have a higher BMI than 100% of males aged 45-59 in your country' and 'You have a higher BMI than 100% of males aged 45-59 in the world'. Wow. I am, apparently, one of the fattest people on Earth. And, just to add another dollop of insult to injury, I was reliably informed that, 'If everyone in the world had the same BMI as you, it would add 185,216,897 tonnes to the total weight of the world's population.' As you can probably imagine, this news filled me with joy. Or it would have done if I wasn't quite so full of fat. Several days of self-loathing followed these revelations. But self-loathing takes energy and I figured it might be more useful to channel it all into positive action. And so, I decided that the weight must go.
The last time I felt this bad was in 2006 and I lost six stones. The 'before and after shots' show me when I was at my heaviest (21st 3lbs) and after the six stone loss. I got down to 15st ... which, scarily, was still at least two stones heavier than I should be. For my height, weight and build I should be around 12 to 13st. That means that I have 7st 6lb to lose. That's a total of 104lbs I have to shed. Daunting, no? But not undoable. I know that because I've done it before. The thing I have to do this time is not put it all on again afterwards. This is, I believe, my last chance at redemption. Weight loss becomes harder as you get older and if I don't do this now, I probably never will and my next rapid weight loss will be in a box six feet below the sod.
I trained to be a chef in my teens (before becoming a cop) and I understand food and its effects on the body. I also understand all of the lies and tricks that the food industry uses to lure us to buy. I watch TV shows that educate me about food - just recently, the Channel 4 Dispatches programme on the '5 per day' scheme, and BBC2's excellent three part The Men who made us Fat were required viewing. They absolutely vindicated what I've known for years.
So I've designed a diet for myself that is healthy, filling and tasty. And it's working. I started on Friday 13th (auspicious?) and now, a week later, I've already lost 6lbs. I know that I won't continue to lose at the rate of 1lb per day - this is mostly fat around my liver that I'm shifting to begin with. Realistically, I'm looking at 2lbs per week. That may not sound like a lot but, if you think about it, 2lbs is four blocks of butter. That's pretty substantial. It's going to take me over a year to lose my tonnage but I am focused and I will do it. After all, a year will fly by (Titanic was 15 years ago remember? Fifteen! It feels like last year). I've also upped my exercise with long walks and frequent visits to the Wii in my lounge. My 'Mii' is curiously accurate:
So, I apologise now if I'm grumpier than usual. Food and drink are pretty much the only vices I have left and I love cooking, good ale and dinner parties. It's taking a little while to adapt to a new lifestyle. It's also taking time for my enormous body to get used to the new chemical balance and the lack of 'happy' endorphins I'd usually get from things like wine, chocolate and beer. I was getting so curmudgeonly in fact that I decided to take a break from Twitter; I don't want to piss off the lovely people who, for reasons known only to themselves, choose to follow me. I'm grateful to them and have no wish to make them rue their decision. My mood is slowly improving, the scales are making me smile and I'll be back soon; a few weeks maybe.
Meanwhile, there's that 51st birthday to look forward to. And, if I have anything to do with it, many more after that.