I’ve always had a thing about my weight. I know, I know. Tell me a guy who hasn’t? But it’s something that’s always weighed (if not heavily, then obstructively) on my mind. Well, at least since the age of seven.
Seemingly overnight, I went from a skinny kid boasting barely a spare ounce of flesh to a bit of a Chubby Checker. I mean, I was never a passenger on the Fast Train to Obesity or in danger of losing the view to my feet. But I was a little tubby, and could pinch (fractionally) more than an inch.
I think it was largely a genetic thing. My dad was the same. We shared identical builds as kids. It’s almost freaky how DNA quirks can repeat themselves. So, through most of junior school – and all of high school – I was battling the bulge (at least in my own mind). It didn’t stop me playing football (/soccer) well enough to bag various spots on school teams. Though this may have been more a reflection of the standard of our teams than my prowess on the park.
I was also teased for carrying the extra poundage at junior school; branded one of The Flumps for a while; due to being small, round, chubby-faced and sporting a classic bowl hair-cut. The Flumps was a BBC children’s programme from the late ’70s and ’80s which featured the adventures of a family of small, round furry characters who mostly wore bowl-shaped hats. I guess I was Perkin, the little boy Flump. Thankfully I wasn’t too furry.
In high school, one of our P.E. teachers, Dave Pointon – a former Gloucester Rugby Club star – said I was a pretty talented footballer (/soccer player), but my weight was holding me back – as well as leaving unnecessary dents in the pitch (OK, he didn’t actually say that last bit; but I knew he was thinking it).