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Authors: Judy Astley

Size Matters

BOOK: Size Matters
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About the Book

Big and beautiful? Or thin and miserable?

Jay has always envied her cousin Delphine. While Jay was brought up in a large, noisy and chaotic family, Delphine was indulged, perfectly dressed with a co-ordinated bedroom, an immaculate wardrobe, dancing lessons and monogrammed silver-backed hairbrushes. Now Jay lives happily with her architect husband and their three teenage children, running a successful cleaning company and trying to keep some kind of order on her disorderly household, while Delphine has long since disappeared to Australia with her second husband. But Jay does sometimes wonder whether she should be more like her cousin – utterly well-organised and with a size ten figure.

So Jay decides to diet. But what should it be? High carb, no protein? High protein, no carb? High fibre? Wheat free? Fat free? Food free? She tries them all, with a variety of successes and failures. But then Delphine reappears, with a third husband in prospect and the same old air of apparently effortless superiority. Jay never considers that perhaps Delphine is the envious one . . .



About the Book

Title Page


1  Cake

2  Detox

3  Chocolate Hobnobs

4  Grapefruit

5  Skinny Latte (two sugars)

6  Patches

7  Shape-Shakes

8  Yoga

9  Cabbage Soup

10  Nigella's Strawberry Ice Cream (featuring ten egg yolks and a pint of double cream)

11  Weight Watchers

12  Jogging

13  Chips

14  Dr Atkins

15  Rosemary Conley

16  Magic Pants

17  Swimming

18  Cake

About the Author

Also by Judy Astley


Size Matters
Judy Astley

Thanks to Hedy for essential secrets

from the cleaning business.

And to fellow inmates of the Borchester Asylum

for welcome shots of daily lunacy. May Matron's

gin cupboard never run dry.


‘Was it something I said?'

Well of course it was. When men have to ask that, it always is. It was the something Greg had said just seconds before as he'd rolled across back to his side of the bed. It was the something he'd added to his habitual post-coital ‘Ooof!' (accompanied by tightly closed eyes and grin like a silly spaniel). Out he'd come with it, not a single bit of tactful pre-thought getting in the way.

‘Hey,' he'd said, nudging Jay hard in the side. ‘This is a first!
I've just shagged a granny!
Yee ha!'

Oh how he'd laughed; such a pleased-with-himself, aren't-I-witty tee-hee-hee of a cackle. It was all too clear in his jokey delight that he was thinking clichéd Red Riding Hood Grannydom as in cauliflower perm, frilly pinny and the late Dame Thora on a stairlift. Whereas Jay, since daughter Imogen had let them in on why she'd been groaning a lot and looking pale, had been lining herself up, grandmother-wise, alongside Bianca Jagger, Marianne Faithfull and Victoria Beckham's glamorous mum.

‘I'm not a granny yet.' Jay was huffy and unamused. She turned over on her side, the one that didn't face
him. ‘There's months to go. The poor girl isn't even showing yet.'

Poor girl? Where did that come from? Twenty-year-old Imogen had, with the simple words ‘I'm pregnant' shoved her own still-young and unready mother along life's bench towards a generation beyond her own – and, you couldn't help thinking it, closer to where you fell off the end. You need time for being comfortable with that sort of thing. Time to start wondering about whether you're still allowed in Topshop without feeling you should give the excuse that the pink, lace-front cheesecloth top is for a Seventies theme party. Time to reflect on whether your Desert Island Disc choices should include a token classical number to balance out The Clash and Duran Duran.

‘Isn't she?' Greg pummelled his pillows back into shape, propped himself up against the blue suede headboard and picked up the TV remote control from his bedside table. He started flipping through a few channels, searching for the last remnants of some sunny distant test match.

‘I'd have said she was, a bit,' he said as he settled to suffer England being thrashed by the West Indies (again). ‘But then I suppose, well, she's quite a big girl our Moggy.' He knocked a knuckle against Jay's thigh. ‘Takes after her mum.' Greg laughed again, cheerily unmindful that this didn't exactly make her feel better.

‘Don't forget though Greg, this is going to make you a granddad,' Jay pointed out. ‘It works both ways.' Even as she said it she knew it
work both ways. This was another of the many things that were unfairly Different for Men.

‘Yeah. That's right.' He smiled, picturing some distant happy scene. ‘It'll be brilliant. I can just see it, me out in the park in the summer sun, pushing the buggy – we must get the baby one of those fab
three-wheel efforts. And there I'll be, sitting on that bench at the playground with all the gorgeous nannies and slinky Slavic au pairs and bored young mums and they'll all be looking at me and thinking . . .'

‘Thinking what?' As if she couldn't guess.

‘That I'm its dad! They'll think I'm one of those cool old dude-dads who's still got a fully revved up turbocharger under his bonnet.
it's not running on unleaded.' The gleeful chuckle surfaced once more.

Jay sighed and muttered, ‘Give me strength,' before burrowing down deep into the duvet, trying, unsuccessfully, to shut out flashes of light from the TV.

She surfaced briefly to ask, ‘Are you actually watching that?'

‘Mmmm.' Greg turned the volume up, bringing into the room the sound of an exuberant steel band.

Jay yawned. She felt exhausted suddenly, wishing she hadn't been so greedy with Imogen and Tris's baby-celebration champagne which had lowered the already feeble diet defences enough for her to pig out on that third slice of chocolate cake. It was lying heavily now inside her, accusing her of gluttony, slack discipline and a reckless disregard for seemly feminine behaviour. The strawberries didn't count – they were Only Fruit. But not even a token hesitation had she expressed about wolfing down all that sweet crumbly cake, the overrich, creamy filling, so very much thick chocolate and walnut icing. Failing all the rules of proper womanhood, Jay hadn't so much as murmured a reluctant ‘Ooh I really shouldn't.' Now all those calories, enough to keep a polar trekker marching for several days, were getting their revenge, making their presence felt within her as they advanced unstoppably to cosy up alongside the fat deposits on her thighs. And there it would all stay for evermore, bulking up the flab and the inches. On top of all this,
Greg's thoughtless granny-comment was what a social commentator would call ‘not helpful'.

There must be women, Jay mused as she closed her eyes and thought of sleep, in fact she was sure that there actually
women out there in that parallel fantasy realm of long-term coupledom, women who were blessed with a far higher level of after-sex appreciation than this. A hearty slap on the thigh, a jolly confirmation that ‘slim as a wand' had bypassed ‘gorgeously rounded' and morphed irrevocably into ‘downright flabby', and a casual reminder about lost youthfulness couldn't be any woman's idea of the best post-coital moments. She'd have hated Greg to be one of those men who nuzzled in a creepily humble way and muttered ‘thank you' as if they had just been granted a rare and filthy trample through the sacred female temple. And thank all the gods he didn't do that cringe-making ‘how was it for you?' begging question that Barbara, her business partner, got from her husband every Friday night without fail. Good grief, if he couldn't tell by now . . . But just occasionally it would be pleasing if the sexual after-blast could include some close gratifying snuggling, some loving touchy-feely stuff as if there was at least the pretence of reluctance to let the moment go.

On the plus side of course, at least they still
did it
now and then. Half-joky hints from friends (and far too much nostalgic detail on how it used to be from Cathy next door) told her that several had partners who were not so much running on unleaded, as Greg would so charmingly put it, but whose metaphorical starter motors had rusted to a permanent standstill. Another plus with Greg was that he wouldn't give her pained glances suggestive of hypersensitivity when, as she did now, she gave up on sleep and reached down to the floor to pick up the book she was eager to finish.

As she was settling herself into a good reading position Jay caught the glint of reflected light through the bit where the huge glass expanse of the bedroom window met the huge glass expanse of the roof. So he was at it again. The Planet Man in the top-floor flat across the road was watching the stars from his homebuilt observatory and ‘accidentally' doing his best to take in the views afforded by any neighbours careless enough to have far more window than curtain. Blinds. We should do something about getting blinds, she thought, making a mental note. It was time to do something more serious about privacy up in this rooftop fishtank of a bedroom than these flimsy organdie hangings.

What was it William Morris had said about home furnishings? Something along the lines of every domestic item being either beautiful or functional, preferably both? Close-to-transparent window hangings weren't anyone's idea of functional, even in this glorious shade of sandy gold scattered with tiny random pearly stones, so that the effect was a bit like a vertical stretch of beach with the sun glinting onto shimmering shell. They'd looked sensational in
Elle Decoration
, but you needed a full-time live-in stylist of your own to keep them as artlessly breeze-blown as in the seductive photos. Top of the list of what you definitely
need was a Burmese cat with a low boredom threshold and a crazed conviction that there must be a secret mouse hidden right at the top of any length of claw-sensitive fabric. Sad threads hung like half-fallen hairs, wafting this way and that in the breeze, reminding her of the folly of indulging a costly design whim in a house that was actually used for living in rather than looking at.

As ever, faced with domestic purchasing dilemmas, Jay thought of her cousin Delphine. The name made
her visualize a brand of lavatory paper, in quilted lilac perhaps, with little gold fleur-de-lys printed on it. Jay imagined saying exactly that to Delphine herself and to Auntie Win, Delphine's devoted mama. Neither would find the analogy the slightest bit of a put-down. On the contrary they'd be thrilled at the very idea. If such a thing existed, Auntie Win would seek it out at once to match the purple and gilt Versace tiles in her bungalow boudoir's en suite. Still, loo-roll or not, there was still that tiny childhood remnant of envy when Jay recalled Aunt Win stroking her infant daughter's fine blonde hair and cooing ‘Pretty name, a pretty girl.' When you're named plain old Jane on the practical basis that, as Jay's own mother briskly claimed, ‘You can't shorten that' only to find even that reduced by all and sundry to the sound of a mere initial, it had been hard not to wish she'd been christened something madly fairylike, such as Philomena-Willow.

Delphine, far away as she was in Western Australia, used to know all that could possibly be known about sourcing domestic solutions. In her first marriage, twenty years before, she'd been the acknowledged Martha Stewart of East Sheen. You'd expect nothing less from a woman who by her early teenage years was saving her pocket money to buy drawn-thread Egyptian cotton sheets to stash away in her bottom drawer like a Victorian bride, and who had won a Blue Peter badge for knitting up a set of doilies, using the string bags that oranges were sold in. Delphine, were she not half a world away, would relish telling Jay exactly where she'd gone wrong with the window furnishings (and also gone wrong in marrying an architect who delighted in conducting his more outré design experiments on his own home. ‘Using home as a showcase – it'll stun potential clients,' Greg had explained, jubilant with the early designs for this nearly-all-glass roof
conversion.) Delphine would instruct Jay to source a long list of appropriate blind manufacturers for price comparison and she'd tell her exactly which fabric would look best. Unfortunately she wouldn't just leave it at that. In Delphine's case, advice always came firmly stapled to opinions, as in: ‘What you should do
, you should . . .'

BOOK: Size Matters
3.76Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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