Talking of diets, I've had my chips

DO you eat five bits of fruit or vegetables each day?Well I don't and today, dear readers, I have been told I have to improve my diet. It was reporter Josh Warwick, himself a favourite with the lady hacks of the Evening Star newsroom, who actually plucked up the nerve to tell me my diet was atrocious.

DO you eat five bits of fruit or vegetables each day?

Well I don't and today, dear readers, I have been told I have to improve my diet.

It was reporter Josh Warwick, himself a favourite with the lady hacks of the Evening Star newsroom, who actually plucked up the nerve to tell me my diet was atrocious. What cheek.

This comment, which was quickly followed by an encore of agreement from my esteemed colleagues, got me thinking.

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Do you really have to go to the gym to be a valued member of society? Can one not be chubby and cheerful? Will being slim reduce my capacity for bon homie?

Is everyone else right and I wrong? Another colleague Helen, who worries about me, placated me with an offer to go shopping together.

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“James,” she said as she sank a glass of red wine in an Ipswich hostelry one night after work last week, “Where do you buy your food?”

“Well, you know, the Co-op do a nice line in crisps and I live very close to a chippy,” I replied.

She's now so worried she admitted it keeps her up at night, so I am considering a complete overhaul and a new healthy me.

I daren't tell my mother, who - even at my time of life - suspects I don't look after myself properly.

My fridge, housed in a corner of my functional but small kitchen, is perhaps a good place to start.

At the moment it contains:

A half eaten melon which is now getting as old as my grandmother.

A spinach and Ricotta pizza - well it was on offer.

A box of prunes - unopened but tasty warm and wrapped in streaky bacon with a six o'clock lime juice and gin.

Milk which went out of date on May 12 - it is semi skimmed though.

And half a pound of mince in the freezer compartment.

But is all this that unhealthy? I'm not sure. To be honest I think these health kicks which were so popular and predominant in our society in the last decade have somewhat passed me by.

Nevertheless, after a little research, I have already learnt a few interesting facts.

Crisps can't be counted as one of the five-a-day.

Fizzy drinks aren't that good for you just because they might be fruit-based.

I'll apparently feel energised if I eat vegetables - vodka and Red Bull isn't the same.

Cheese on toast isn't better for you just because it is a vegetarian option.

Do you have any tips on how to improve my diet? It's all getting very complicated.

I might have to have a portion of chips to get over the stress.

Which reminds me, an unforgettable evening of high drama happened at the Ipswich often Operatic and Dramatic Society annual general meeting.

Simon, the director of this year's autumn show The Full Monty - due to be performed at the Spa Pavilion in the Edwardian seaside resort of Felixstowe - said a few words.

“There are a lot of myths going around about the next show,” he announced.

“We do need old women in it and the men that strip don't have to have a six pack.”

I had ruled myself out of the running as my six pack, though well hidden, is certainly there somewhere. In fact I think I've got several.

Sue, the oldest woman in the society and possibly east Suffolk she will forgive me for saying, was visibly relieved.

But Simon went on: “You don't have to strip in the audition and we do need a man who is barrel shaped and not so fit, chubby really,” he announced.

At which point a number of the assembled turned and looked at me with knowing grins.

I can't think why but I was mildly irked.

ISN'T her Majesty marvellous?

I love the Queen. She's had a lovely trip to America, hit the headlines for all the right reasons and represented our great nation once again with aplomb.

One colleague said to me “You're just a monarchist aren't you? It's not as if she's had to queue at the airport and take a budget flight. She's looked after all the way.”

“And that's as it should be,” I replied.

She's been doing it for years of course and she's a professional.

She even planted a tree - I just hope she didn't have to shovel all that earth on her own, she's over 80 you know.

MY dental hygienist Karen is proving to be a somewhat regular part of my life.

“James,” she said as I reclined with my mouth open, waiting for a scrape during my latest appointment.

“I think we are going to get to know each other quite well. You're going to have to come back again to see me.”

“Mmm” I mumbled.

As she mopped my brow she explained that I needed a regular scrape and had to clean my teeth properly.

“Your pain threshold has definitely improved since you first came to see me.”

“Mmm” I mumbled. At least I'm a brave soldier.

HACKS like me are a cynical bunch, but once in a while we come across some quite remarkable people.

And today I'd like to pay tribute to Nicki Durbin.

It was just over a year ago that her son Luke went missing - the mystery of his disappearance has yet to be solved.

Nicki has tirelessly worked to find her boy, she has had to learn fast the ways of the media, she has had to thrust herself into the limelight to highlight her cause and keep Luke's name in the press.

Reporters who have spoken to her say Nicki is an articulate woman who overnight found herself in an unimaginably difficult situation.

She has vowed not to rest until Luke is found.

In this quest and her approach to it, her strength of character and her tenacity are admirable. All of us at The Evening Star look forward to the day when we can report a happy ending to this nightmare.

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