AS you may recall from my last column, I’ve reached the conclusion that I need to embark on a New Year fitness regime.

The final straw came during our recent trip to Los Angeles when I went on a funfair ride with my seven-year-old niece, Isabella, and realised I was struggling to get the safety bar over my belly.

If I’m honest, I’ve been hiding from the truth for quite a while. For example, does anyone else out there go deliberately cross-eyed when looking at photographs of themselves so that they’re blurred, and they don’t see the full unsightly horror?

Well, that’s me. I do it so often these days that I’m getting worried I may make myself permanently cross-eyed.

I also noticed at Christmas that I no longer needed to shove a cushion under my cloak when I dressed up as Santa Claus. Over recent years, I’ve gradually morphed into the perfect Santa shape and I don’t like it.

Anyway, I’ve decided enough’s enough. Since returning from America, where all I seemed to eat was giant burgers and fries, I’ve been on a strict fruit diet. During the day, whenever I’m feeling peckish, I have an apple, banana or satsuma instead of a buttered sandwich. And, perhaps the hardest step of all, I’ve banned myself from glasses of red wine in the evening because one always leads to another and sometimes a third.

However, I’m very conscious that Christmas is less than 10 months away, so I’ve decided to speed up the process by jogging around the village every night. It’s an easy, 20-minute route, covered at an even pace, with asthma inhaler in hand for comfort.

Even if I say so myself, it’s been going rather well. I’ve stuck to my diet religiously – allowing myself the odd glass of red as a weekend reward – and I’ve forced myself out of the door for my evening run no matter how cold or wet it is outside.

So, there I was the other night: it was so cold that I could see my breath billowing out of me in little white clouds, but I put my head down and gallantly carried on. I find it easier to look down at the ground when I’m running because, if I look up, all I ever see are inclines and it reminds me how far I’ve still got left to go.

Suddenly, there was a bang and I found myself flat on my back, looking up at the stars. The sky was spinning, and a stranger was leaning over me, gently asking me if I was OK. For a second, I thought I must have been mugged by someone in desperate need of an inhaler, but then I saw the large hanging basket outside The Bay Horse pub swinging on its chain.

“What happened?” I spluttered, sitting up.

“You ran into that hanging basket,” the concerned villager explained, clearly trying to stifle a smile.

I found myself wondering if Mo Farah had ever been felled by a well-kept collection of winter pansies, primroses and polyanthus. I don’t suppose he has.

Anyway, I walked the rest of the way home and took a couple of Paracetamol. I think it might be safer to join a gym.


DETAILS matter when you’re little…An old colleague of mine called Gavin was in a café in York with his eldest child when a stranger asked how old the little boy was.

It’s fair to say Gavin’s answer didn’t go down too well.

“Daddy, will you STOP saying I’m three and a half. I’ve told you before, I’m THREE AND THREE QUARRRRRRTERRRRS!” shouted the boy.