Every so often, some journalist - probably the same rascally scoundrel - will publish an article expounding how we're sitting on an obesity timebomb (I thought it was just an sprung spring in the sofa) and then to prove his point, will include a table of healthy and desirable weights. I'll read it, go to the bathroom, stand on the scales, get off the scales, cut my finger and toenails, get back on the scales, get off the scales, shave my legs, get back on the scales, balance on one leg, get off the scales, pee, get back on the scales and then sob - not so quietly this time.
Does this sound familiar?
No more tears. For I have discovered a way to kill two birds with one stone. (Not literally, for that would be cruel and unnecessary.)
Download audio books! (Unabridged.) Today, I downloaded Hard Times by the writer Charles Dickens onto - well, I promised not to bang on about that gadget, so we'll stick with I downloaded and end the sentence there.
And then I went for a walk. I got to my destination, forgot it was my destination and kept walking. And then I walked a bit more. (To be honest, I'd gone somewhat astray.) And then I found myself again, and walked all the way back. Three and a half hours I walked, and all the time smiling and intermittently bursting into laughter. "You never meet with quadrupeds going up and down walls; you must not have quadrupeds represented upon walls." Why, I wondered, have I never read Hard Times before?
I came home and, out of interest, calculated how much energy I had expended on that walk. I have long legs and a long stride and averaged a speed of 4mph which burns approximately 400 calories per hour. The first third of Hard Times had earned me 1400 cals. It takes a deficit of 3500 calories to burn 1lb of fat. Ergo Hard Times is equal to the value of 1.37lbs of fat or 28 Cadbury's Creme Eggs. (I used that illustration as I thought it might be useful for some people.)
As I am not a journalist, I am publishing a helpful table. See below:
Hard Times - 11 hrs 50 mins/4800 calories
Martin Chuzzlewit - 38 hrs 20 mins/15400 calories
The Count of Monte Cristo - 50 hrs 45 mins/20300 calories
The Old Curiosity Shop - 26 hrs/10400 calories
Tristram Shandy - 21 hrs 46 mins/8700 calories
Barnaby Rudge - 30 hrs/12000 calories
Dombey and Son - 41 hrs 18mins /16550 calories
The Wings of the Dove - 20 hrs 41 mins/8300 calories
Anna Karenina - 36 hrs 46 mins/ 14700 calories
The Brothers Karamazov - 36hrs 47 mins/ 14700 calories
War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy - 60 hrs 40 mins/ 24250 calories
My reading - or, rather, listening- list comes to a total of 139300 calories which equals just short of 40lbs of fat. (Or 814 Cadbury's Creme Eggs.) I will be well-read and so slender I shall have to avoid gratings and grids.
Of course, if you weigh 8 stone, you won't burn 400 calories per hour walking at 4mph. But if you weigh 8 stone you can bloody well stick to reading Anita Brookner.
With all of these calculations in mind, even the dullest of dullards must concede there is a clear correlation between the rise in popularity of slim volumes of literary fiction and The Obesity Time Bomb, no?