International NewspapersMost of the WMDs in our Embassy are kept in the refrigerator.
The major threat facing a diplomat posted to a gastronomically advanced country is his expanding waistline, and given the cost of a half-decent wardrobe, drastic measures must be taken and sanctions applied if this impending danger is to be averted.
In an attempt to burn some of the calories absorbed whilst sacrificing the body eating and drinking for my country, I have taken to sport. First up on the agenda : a none-too-competitive game of tennis.
The main problem here is finding a way to slink out of the Embassy dressed for action yet unobserved. Not easy when one is being picked up on a large Harley Davidson by an Italian duke with a name which would stretch for three lines were I about to mention it, which of course I am not, covered in liberal lashings of black leather and silver studs. And I do not refer solely to the bike.
As the syntax should have made clear. Racquets swinging wildly in the thrust from the exhaust, we head for the tennis club and work off a couple of hundred k.cals and a good quarter of a mm around the love handles before subsiding into the bar for a glass or three of pink champagne with which to congratulate ourselves.
Hmmm. Could try harder. Off to the gym.
If you organise this properly, you can multitask. Women excel in this field and complain though we may, it gives us great satisfaction proving, as it does, our infinite superiority over the male of the species, incapable as he is of even conducting a conversation whilst reading the newspaper. In the gym, multitasking works as follows :
Equipment needed : one iPod (am I advertising ? Will Apple sponsor me ?) and two sets of earphones. One ear is plugged into the music, the other into the flat screen TV. Entertainment plus information all in one go. Meanwhile, the legs are pounding the rubber and you still have your hands free to write a note to remind yourself to stop off and buy some flowers on the way home. The gym also has a health club, by the way, which does a great line in delicious chocolate brownies that can be consumed whilst making a couple of phone calls on the mobile and simultaneously scanning the headlines of the complementary newspapers. The resulting gain of half a kilo is, as everyone knows, due to an increase in muscle bulk.
Next stop : equitation. According to all my non-riding friends who wouldn’t know one end of a horse from the other, (i.e. which bit bites and which does the kicking), as a form of exercise this is a waste of time because it is the animal which does all the running around while the rider merely sits there. Which just goes to show all they know about it. When I returned exhausted, covered in mud, sweat and bits of twig, I was turned away at my own front door in case I sullied the Aubusson carpet. Had to creep in through the tradesmen’s entrance and run the gauntlet through starched minions flicking feather dusters at the gilded gesso and ormolu. Very bad for self image.
Beagle was furious, too. Apparently something particularly juicy and hauntingly aromatic had attached itself to my boots and she was in there for the kill all the way up the stairs to the bathroom where, denied access, she howled the Gone Away for the rest of the afternoon. We commiserated with each other over tea and macaroons just as soon as I was cleaned up, and it was at this point that the penny dropped. I didn’t need sport. I needed an alternative strategy. Containment was not working. War would be declared. The fridge would be deprived of ammunition and anything highly calorific would be eliminated. Disarmament.
Or Nouvelle Cuisine, as Cook prefers to call it.