In Goatstown in Dublin, there is a shop for the “larger man”. It’s called Mr Big’n’Tall, or something else terribly euphemistic. It’s ludicrously designed. The aisles are narrow, and I’m sure Kate Moss would breeze through them without even rippling the clothes on the racks, but I can’t walk through the shop without knocking things off their hangers and shelves as I go. It has a changing room, which is teeny; it makes an aeroplane toilet look like a residential semi-detached home in the suburbs. This changing room doesn’t have a seat. A fat man who can take off and put on his shoes without sitting down is faking it. He’s not really fat and he should go back to Marks’ and Spencers’ and buy his clothes there. I sometimes think that the man who works in the shop must spend a significant proportion of his time picking up semi-naked rotund men who have fallen through the curtain of his miniscule changing room. Anyway, the last time I was there, I bought a pair of shorts, except in fatshopland, there are no shorts that are just shorts. There are shorts that are also swimming togs.
So, tonight, once again, I slid my swimsuit on over my thighs and laced up my runners. I was going for my run. Trnovo, where I live, is a trendy suburb, and during the summer, there are free concerts here every night. The Youth of Ljubljana congregate around my block and all around the river bank, and drink and kiss each other with a drunken passion, befitting summer nights by the river.
I amble past the revellers, trying my best to look like someone who isn’t going for a run. I put my hand nonchalantly in the mesh pockets of my shorts. If I could whistle, I would.
Why this secrecy? God only knows. Is there something shameful about a 21-stone foreign man going for a midnight run? I realise how silly this is, but I hate the idea of people seeing me run. I’d rather walk around in my birthday suit.
But, in the immortal words of the Goddess of Victory (and who better to turn to in times of trouble than an evil multi-national?) “Just do it!” So tomorrow, my run is going to be a morning one. Let them watch me jiggle. Let them watch me bounce. Let them watch as my face turns into a sweaty tomato.
As Gloria Gaynor and Shirley Bassey have both said before me “I am what I am, I don’t want praise, I don’t want pity!”
A bit of praise would be alright, though.