Friday, 25 March 2016

Regular As Clockwork

For as long as I can remember, I've loved a party. From the 6th birthday bash at McDonald's during which hordes of hyper kiddies were invited behind the scenes to see where the wafer-thin patties were flipped and were permitted to peer into the freezers, to the Crook Log Leisure Centre under-18's discos full of tanked-up teens necking furiously - parties have always been my favourite pastime.

What is it that makes me so particular about partying? Well for a start, they are bloody good fun. But it's more than that : a decent knees-up has three stages....the build-up, the night itself, and then the gossip-fuelled post-mortem, whereby I'll dine out for weeks (sometimes years) on the flashbacks and anecdotes of a memorable night, basking in the afterglow of a successful shindig.

At the age of 40 my love of all things fun has not diminished - quite the contrary. At 18 the nights and possibilities seem endless, it's impossible to imagine that the raucous rampaging will ever stop. By 40, you're more aware that the opportunities for wild nights of dancing with abandon upon a sticky bar are somewhat limited.

Therefore, when they do present themselves I grab them with both gnarly hands. It's not that I myself am not up for the, no, no! As a childless woman I can do pretty much as I please - my parents are not yet peeing themselves and drinking their meals through straws, so I'm currently carefree. The majority of my party-loving pals, are, however, time-poor parents.

Partying and parenting, I've discovered, do not go hand in hand. Of course there are some things kids and clubs have in common : both keep you up all night and leave you feeling jet-lagged and jaded by the morning. But only one will make you smile for years to come, providing lasting memories that will carry you right through to old age....unlucky, parents!

Ok, ok so the fruit of one's loins may fill you with pride, but I reckon when they are crowded round your deathbed waiting for their slice of your wedge, it'll be the flickering images of dancing, laughing and raving on a beach in Ibiza or Thailand as a vivacious twenty-something that'll be playing out behind your papery eyelids as you take your last breath, not the endless pooey nappies or the heated rows with hormonal teenagers.

One by one, my clubbing comrades succumbed to motherhood, and I had a silent memorial service for each of the fallen ravers, our social scene taking a hit every time one of my previously party-loving pals dropped off the radar to raise another little ruffian. What had previously been a big enough group to fill the entire tube carriage as we teetered and tottered on skyscraper heels on our way to a club, gradually diminished until it was just a handful of the hardcore hailing a cab. These days, it's mostly just me and my fella.

Except, that is, for one event that never fails to fill the dancefloor with an army of forty-something thrill-seekers - Clockwork Orange : a bi-annual London clubbing extravaganza, with a cheeky jaunt to Ibiza thrown in every July for good measure. Thank Christ for that! I was in serious danger of being THAT wrinkly old bird bustin' moves on a dancefloor full of fluffy chicks, that sad creature refusing to let go of her misspent youth, who the cool kids nod towards with a mixture of pity and admiration, that woman over THIRTY who would still dare to dance.

But amongst my fellow Clockworkers I fit right in - for one, we're all old birds (or blokes) and we all share one common goal : to immerse ourselves in some proper old school house tunes, dance til our high heels are ground down to stumps and our faces ache from beaming (or in some cases, gurning).

At our age, we've no time for trouble-makers, competitive flirting and bitching, or general posing and pouting. For us, it's all about the love of the music and the genuine desire for each and every fellow raver to have the best night ever. It's taken weeks, months, even years, to get some of these old faces back on the party circuit, so we all appreciate the effort everyone has made and respect each other accordingly. From baby-sitters to hotels, shoe-horning into skinnies and carefully filling the cracks that have mysteriously appeared in faces since those early raving days, getting a load of like-minded ageing cheesy-quavers in one place takes a LOT of preparation. And that's just the DJs.

Once a weekly occurrence in our twenties and just part of our regular social routine, clubbing til 6am as a responsible adult is now a major event. The wardrobe of suitable dancing attire is likely replaced with suits, sensible shoes sitting where sparkly stilettos used to reside.

So the pre-Clockwork foreplay is a long and languid affair - there's the hair, the nails, the outfit, carefully selected to strike the right balance between slinky and slutty, eager to show a hint of leg rather than the whole joint of mutton. We may be looking fierce at forty, but we are also wise enough to know that resembling the fairy off the top of a Christmas tree is not a good look, and besides, glitter emphasizes crows' feet....even if we do prefer to refer to them as laughter lines.

As the night draws closer, excitement reaches a peak. Going to work doesn't seem such a chore, as every early alarm signifies one less sleep until the party, and we leap from our beds as fast as our bad backs will allow, the spring in our step coming from nervous energy rather than our new comfy insoles.

On the night itself, it's a mixture of emotions, the first being relief and joy that most of our mates with tickets actually show up. Of course, there are a few casualties struck down by familial responsibilities - little Scarlett has a fever for example, or " I'm tired (yawn), I think I'll stay in with a takeaway and Ant and Dec." Bore off!

Whereas as teenagers the FOMO (fear of missing out) alone would have dragged everyone from their homes come rain, hail or snow, as adults the conditions have to be 'just so' for a night of hands-in-the-air frolicking. Only the most dedicated dancefloor demons will brave the elements to fling down some foot.

The evening's proceedings commence with prinks (pre-drinks) at a pre-agreed watering hole. The regular clientele gawp as a fleet of ageing peacocks strut to the bar for an energising Vodka Red Bull to get the party started. Suitably refreshed, it's off to the club early-doors to secure our spots on the dancefloor - us oldies have decades of dancing experience between us, and we take our raving very seriously. High-fiving all the old Ibiza faces and cheers-ing with cheeky chupitos (shots), we settle in for a night of ecstatic catch-ups, wide-eyed with excitement to see all the old raving crew together once more, reunited for a nostalgic trip down memory lane.


We exchange knowing looks as all our favourite Nineties club classics are expertly mixed by the best old-school DJs in the business for our aural pleasure - from Brandon Block and Alex P to Seb Fontaine, Paul Trouble Anderson, and of course not forgetting the legendary geezers who are responsible for Clockwork Orange's 23-year run: Danny Gould and Andy Manston.

These guys have been bossing the clubbing scene for so long the early pictures of their club nights feature the now-bald Manky with a full head of hair and the silver fox Gouldy without the merest hint of grey. Hats off to the lads whose winning formula of top-quality house music and the friendliest footloose and fancy-free atmosphere has withstood the test of time, drawing clubbers young and old (but mostly old) from all over the country. It's a veritable party pilgrimage.

As the night powers on full-throttle, glitter-cannons fire ticker-tape into the heaving crowd, the bass reverberates in our chests and our feet stomp in time to the music. Everyday worries and fears are left far behind and we are all fresh-faced sweaty teenagers once more, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as we throw some shapes, concentrating on cutting rug as if our lives depend on it. Satisfied with the reaction on the dancefloor, the DJs happily engage with their adoring legion of loyal clubbers, whose lives may have taken different paths in the intervening decades but our one true love, the love of house music, is the glue that bonds us all.

photo credit: Daddy's Got Sweets

Sadly, even the best nights must eventually end, and as the birds start tweeting the crowd reluctantly begins to wind down, ready for the dreaded journey home.

The Walk of Shame is not great at any age, but there's something particularly painful about stumbling about shame-faced on a Sunday morning on public transport as a forty-something in a dress and heels that causes me to clench my teeth a little harder. Sometimes it's easier to hit the after-party than face the grim journey, but we're long enough in the tooth to realise that we're just prolonging the agony.
Like putting a wounded animal to sleep, it's better to get it over with as quickly as possible, hence we scurry home bleary-eyed before we all turn into pumpkins. With the amount of orange attire and dodgy tan-jobs knocking about, that particular transformation is a distinct possibility.

Once safely in the comfort of our own homes, we dissect the evening's events fully, revelling in the glory of another outstanding night. Looking bone-tired, dog-rough and with a monster hangover already kicking in, we'd all agree nevertheless that it was worth it. No-one looks back and remembers the nights they got plenty of sleep, after all.

photo credit

As our bloodshot bulging eyes finally flutter closed, memories of the club nights of our youth merge with these fresh memories as we upload them to our internal hard drives, stored away to be recalled and enjoyed time and again, say on a wet Wednesday afternoon at work, during a particularly dreary commute - or until the next Clockwork club night creates fresh ones in six months' time.

And at our age, it'll take us that long to get over it....

photo credit

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Monday, 21 March 2016

Counter Productive

photo credit

Working on the beauty circuit in the late Nineties was a bit like a Scalextric race track, in terms of both pace and circular routine: find a juicy role with a luxury brand, immerse yourself into it, onto the by day, party by night.....until all the days, nights and jobs blended into one. Looking back, it's all a flurry of make-up brushes and chinking shot glasses, high cheekbones and high drama.

A typical day in the life of a cosmetic junkie would start with....a hangover. The alarm rudely buzzing in my ear would herald the start of another hectic day, so I'd jump into the shower bleary-eyed but unconcerned about my pallid complexion as I knew my suitcase of trickery would have me looking catwalk-ready once more.

Obviously this was no mean feat, so I'd set aside about thirty minutes for the full works : layer upon pinky-toned layer of foundation, concealer, powder, followed by at least three shades of eyeshadow, highlighter, blusher, lashings of mascara to give the illusion of being wide awake. It's a wonder my eyelids stayed open at all under the weight of those spider-leg lashes.

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Despite standing for upwards of eight hours a day, we were required to wear skyscraper heels, leading to severe 'ball-burn.'  "My balls are killing me!" we'd exclaim, slipping off our stilettos behind the counter and reaching down to massage our poor stockinged feet. Stepping onto the train in heels and white consultant's labcoat for the ninety minute Kent commute, we'd get sidelong glances from the other passengers who were trying to decide if we were a) nurses or b) fetish escorts.

The silent stares of the train were soon replaced by pumping house music the minute the tube spat us out into the West End and we'd assumed our positions behind our respective beauty counters; despite being merely an arm's length apart, each had a different beat like the various rooms in a nightclub.

The loud music, along with the thousands of bright lights, was a set-up I'm sure that was intended to disorientate the customer to such an extent that they'd fling their purse open and empty the contents onto the counter, wild-eyed and desperate to escape the chaos. It worked. Such was the momentum and buzz of the beauty hall that the decision to part with half a week's wages on a few frivolous frilly-packaged items was made in a millisecond. We'd expertly wrap their purchases in tissue paper origami-style, spritz them with perfume, then whisk away the banknotes before they had time to question the triple-figured total.

If footfall was low, on a Monday morning for example, we'd drum up business with a few deft demos: our modus operandi to hit our outlandish sales targets would be to stealthily grab an unsuspecting passer-by, guide them purposefully to a stool before carefully but quickly applying the latest season's shadows and a glossy pink lip, giving the illusion that perfect application is effortless. Sometimes they'd put up an initial struggle, in which case the protocol was to politely but firmly hold one arm whilst casually tucking a tissue into their collar, before making up only one side of their face. Then you could relax your grip safe in the knowledge that they'd have to stay put whilst you evened out their face, or else risk looking like a stroke victim as they shuffled off half-done.

If they didn't buy, well no matter, as by now a crowd of ladies had gathered to watch the performance, and if the 'model' didn't loosen the purse strings, then you could guarantee some of the others would.

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"Ooh, look how she's reduced her bags," they'd murmur, much to the dismay of the model/victim (model stroke victim - see what I did there?) who'd have loved to retort but by now I'm gripping her jaw shut as I liberally apply a lip plumper to demonstrate that "even thin lips (like these, I say internally) can look full and luscious." It's not so much a make-up brush I needed as a magic wand.

Once the gaggle of insecure ladies have restored their confidence by investing in lip-plumpers and eye-lifters I'm parched, and round up my other counter chicks for our morning tea break. In those days you could smoke in the canteen or over at Silvio's, the local coffee shop, so both would be bursting with bimbos, the clouds of expensive fragrance quickly replaced by billowing clouds of cigarette smoke as we puffed away and sipped our skinny capps whilst catching up with all the latest gossip, of which there was never a shortage in an all-female industry.

photo credit

I say it was all women - that's not strictly true. There were men too, but solely of the haughty homosexual variety, who were arguably more feminine, and certainly more bitchy, than their female counterparts. They'd peer down their powdered aquiline noses at what people were wearing, either silently nodding their approval or sneering in disgust. They wore more make-up than the girls (which is saying something) and they were the most fun : the girls flocked around these social butterflies who fluttered about the Beauty Hall, earning some the dubious title 'Fag Hags.' Totally un-PC these days, of course, but in that era it was perfectly acceptable and even hankered-after - everyone wanted to be part of the coolest cliques.

Once super-charged on caffeine, croissants and Marlboro Lights, it was back to the shop floor to clock up some commission. Although the girls would smile sweetly and air-kiss each other, behind the scenes it was brutal - a dog-eat-dog scrum for sales, with consultants elbowing each other out of the way to get the juiciest transactions and hence biggest commissions for themselves. And if there was a 'Gift Time' GWP promotion, beware! I'm sure the most money-grabbing dollybirds sharpened their carefully-polished acrylics into a point, ready to jab a blood-red nail into the eye of a more agile advisor. All's fair in love and lipstick.

The clued-up Queens were having none of it, however : hands on snake-hips, they'd pout and pontificate if they thought they'd been done out of a decent sale. To escape the drama, we'd step outside the counter for a spot of traffic-stopping : spritzing fragrance onto strips and wafting them past people's noses so their nostrils would twitch Bisto-kid stylee and you could lead them, entranced, back to your lair and sell them the full fragrance-layering family of great expense. Our favourite time of year was known as 'Arab Season', when wealthy Middle-Eastern customers would come to London to escape the heat of home and dispense with wads of fifties as they stocked up on precious musky perfumes. Ringing tills were music to our ears.

We hated quiet periods when our managers would proclaim "Time to lean, time to clean!" and surreptitiously slip a duster into our hands. As twitchy twenty-somethings we were happy to be kept busy....just not cleaning. Urgh! It was an alien concept to us. Instead we'd busy ourselves giving each other make-overs, eyelashes creating a breeze from all the false-lash effect mascara, lips dripping in mirror-shine gloss. All glammed up at the end of our shifts, it seemed a shame to waste such a work of art, so with about £100 worth of product on our faces, we'd nip across to the Henry Holland pub for some quick liquid refreshment in the form of the cheap house plonk.

Of course, one drink never quenched our thirst, so several bottles on empty stomachs later and suddenly one of us would have a great idea. "Let's go to a club!"

We'd slide off our barstools, tease our aching trotters back into pointy heels and totter off to Pop, L'Equipe Anglaise or some other edgy local establishment. The flowing drinks made us forget the pain in our feet and we'd dance with gay abandon at G.A.Y until we realised we were about to miss the last train back to the 'burbs, so like Cinderella we'd dash out just as the clock struck midnight.

After a few dozy circuits of the circle line, I'd snap out of my trance and make the final train from Charing Cross by the skin of my furry teeth before slipping back into Slumberland and waking up in an empty carriage at the end of the line.

Eventually home, I'd carefully take off my make-up (well I do work in beauty, Dahlink!) despite the late hour, then slip into bed for a few hours' shut-eye before that dreaded alarm announced the new dawn once more...

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Saturday, 19 March 2016

Return of the Mack

Working in the beauty industry in London in the late nineties and early noughties was a close-knit, glamorous affair. I use the word ‘affair’ partly because the relationship between employer and employee tended to be a short-lived love story: we fell in love with a brand, threw ourselves wholeheartedly into selling their wares, then like the fickle young things we were, we'd soon fall out of love and move onto the next exciting company in the department store's beauty hall. Thus grew this incestuous community of bouffanted babes, where everyone knew everyone and it wasn't uncommon to see the same faces work their way from one counter to the next over the course of a few years, each time building up their contacts book, boosting their CVs and getting a change of scene and a cheeky pay increase into the bargain.

Dickens and Jones, Harvey Nicks, Barkers of Kensington - we touted our make-up skills and fragrance knowledge around them all, but my favourite of the lot was Selfridges. A hip and bustling cosmetic hall crammed with carefully-coiffed glossy young consultants, we'd have to shout above the pounding beats of the music, different tunes coming from various counters in a kind of controlled chaos: tall, slender model-esque reps offering fragrance strips doused in the latest heady scents to passing shoppers, make-up artists applying red lips here, brushing on mascara there; it was a veritable beauty playground set against a house music backdrop as DJs spun tunes in the neighbouring Spirit fashion section.

The social scene that came with working with hundreds of like-minded young people was as buzzing as the atmosphere in the store itself, and club promoters came by on a daily basis handing out passes for free entry or discounted drinks at all the hippest clubs. My fellow beauty buddies and I fell into a familiar pattern: selling high-end beauty products by day, partying at night.

One particular party-loving pal of mine was Lorraine (Lolly) Mack - a 30 year old effervescent blonde bombshell, whose larger-than-life personality and striking looks earned her notoriety on the beauty and clubbing circuits. Being blessed with a banging bod meant she'd also done a spot of glamour modelling and had appeared in various publications such as FHM and The Sun as well as a TV show on Sky1.

One night in March 2004, I'd been invited to Pacha nightclub in Victoria by a friend of mine, so Lolly and I decided to make a night of it and take our respective beaus along too - I was engaged to Liam, and Lorraine had an Italian boyfriend who was over for the weekend. Lolly was tired on the day and considered dropping out, but after a few drinks in Islington we were all buzzing off each other's energy (and possibly a few cheeky shots) and in high spirits took a taxi to the club. What happened next changed Lorraine's life forever.

Laughing and joking, we bantered with the bouncers before being ushered into the blackness of the club, our bodies reverberating from the heavy bass of the music. We queued for the cloakroom, bought drinks at the bar, then Liam and I left Lolly and her boyfriend near the bar whilst we nipped upstairs to find the rest of our mates.

Unbeknownst to us as we passed by the crowds on the balcony above, a heavily-built young guy (who was high on drink and drugs) was about to come over the balcony into the crowd of tightly-packed revellers below......landing directly onto Lorraine.
Instantly, her spinal cord was severed at the fourth vertebrae from the top, rendering her immediately quadriplegic. In that split-second her life, as she knew it, was over.

When Liam and I came back downstairs a few minutes later we saw a commotion and a crowd gathered around someone on the floor. Everything went into slow motion as it dawned on us that it was our friend, and that she wasn't moving. We fought through the crowd, shouting over the music, pleading with her to get up. But it was no use. She knew instantly what had happened, that she was paralysed. All she could do was blink helplessly. We raced to hospital where Lorraine had emergency surgery involving taking bone from her hip and putting it into her neck to secure it.

When your phone rings in the middle of the night it's often accompanied with a sense of dread, and as we sat alongside her Mum and two elder brothers Tony and Gary in the waiting room we were all numb with shock, unable to take in the enormity of the fate that had befallen our Lolly.

When we set off for a night's clubbing, none of us could have known that Lorraine would not return home for the next 10 months, those long dark days spent instead at the specialist spinal hospital Stoke Mandeville, surrounded by other patients for whom life had also dealt a terrible hand.  One such patient who became a friend to Lorraine was Dan Nicholls, an 18-year-old boy paralysed by a freak wave whilst enjoying a day at Bondai Beach, whose father would later go on to set up The Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation.

During those unspeakably tough early days of her injury Lorraine's thoughts were dark, even asking her brothers to take her to the Dignitas Clinic in Zurich to end her life. It was during this period that her brother Tony started researching possible treatments online, desperate to help his beloved sister.

"We can give up Lorraine, or we can fight this together until we find a cure and get you walking again."

This marked the turning point, and since then Lolly and her family have campaigned tirelessly to raise funds towards finding a cure. Despite being paralysed from the neck down, Lorraine still endured constant chronic pain all over her body in the form of burning pins and needles, and needed a cocktail of 18 different drugs each day which left her bloated and did little to alleviate her daily agony.

Twelve years on, and today Lorraine is a beacon of hope in an otherwise bleak prognosis. Despite doctors telling her early on that she'd never move again she cranks up the dance music, flips on her disco lights and undergoes four gruelling hours of intense physiotherapy each day with the help of her carers, and consequently has some movement in both arms. Although she is unable to grip with her hands, she can use her phone, laptop and has even learnt to apply her own make-up again. She retains her love of fashion, music, modelling and travelling the world, and her treatment and quest for a cure have led her as far afield as Miami, LA, Italy and Brazil.

Her relationship with her boyfriend came to an end, but now she's found true love in the form of a 29 year old LA-based hunk, to whom she's been engaged for a year after meeting at a mutual friend's house two years ago.

The man who landed on Lorraine was given a two year sentence, but Lolly doesn't dwell on the facts of the night, instead remaining focused on her mission to walk again.

She is now completely drug-free, having gone cold turkey from all the meds after ten years, a feat which impressed ex-addict Russell Brand when she bumped into him in her local, causing him to remark that that was probably more difficult than stopping his well-documented heroin use. The bloating caused by the medication disappeared, taking her back to a slinky size eight and today she is as strikingly attractive as ever - her slim figure in contrast to her huge personality, raucous laughter and Barbara Windsor-style cheeky cockney character.

She’s done a tandem skydive which raised £3k for Spinal Research, completed countless 'virtual cycles' for SCI (Spinal Cord Injury) charities including a whopping 285 miles London to Paris bike ride with the aid of her FES (Functional Electrical Stimulation) bike, and is currently about to take part in the WFL (Wings For Life)  World Run in Milan, which her brother Tony will be running whilst pushing her in her wheelchair. She'll be dressed in a pink ensemble complete with wings alongside her four Italian fellow 'Cure Girls' - a group of fiesty women from around the world, all of whom have suffered a spinal cord injury and are therefore campaigning to raise awareness and money for SCI charities.

Lorraine fundraises continuously for various charities including Spinal Research and The Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation. These charities receive zero government funding despite around 40,000 people currently living with paralysis in the UK at a cost of £1billion a year, and help fund vital research. For the first time in history scientists have recorded the reconnection of severed long spinal nerve fibres by using the patient's own stem cells to create a "bridge" over which the damaged connections can grow back, resulting in one paralysed man being able to take his first tentative steps.

When I think back to that fateful night in 2004, my heart lurches when I picture the pair of giggling carefree girls who entered the club and the tragic events that led to only one of us walking out of there again.

The very definition of girl power, I'm filled with admiration for my pal, who overcomes adversity and chronic neuropathic pain on a daily basis in her steely determination to walk again. She remains bubbly and positive, despite losing ten friends over the years as a result of their SCI - either through suicide or health complications relating to their injuries. (Don't be fooled by the glamorous shots - her own list of ailments is extensive, from bladder infections, to scoliosis, osteoporosis and pressure sores).

I'm sure you'll agree that her mental and physical strength and stamina make Lolly Mack a true inspiration, and if anyone can get back on the dancefloor, it's her.

You can visit Lolly's blog at, sponsor her at or visit her website See and for more details on SCI, the research taking place and how you can help. Photography by Michelle George,

This article has also appeared at Huffington Post UK.

Fancy reading Sam's back-story before you go any further? You can find my other blogs at:

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Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Mind the (Thigh) Gap


Okay, so I may know my way around a countour palette and own more cosmetics than Estee Lauder herself, but when it comes to being catwalk-ready from the neck down - forget it!

Now there are some girls who have a body for Baywatch, face for Crimewatch. What's the use in bursting a blood vessel at the gym if you've got a face like a bag o' spanners? No, get your hair and make-up runway-ready and to hell with the fitness regime. It's not called a 'regime' for nothing. I don't recall Hitler's one being a barrel of laughs either. Life's for living, not pouting into your phone like a constipated duck whilst 'working out' for the camera. I can't work that out.

Seeing as the majority of people only chat to the bit above your chin (or chins, in my  case - I blame constantly looking down at my phone) - why bother slogging your guts out on your glutes, especially if you've got a permanent case of resting bitch face. Don't sweat it - just smile occasionally! I know exercise releases endorphins, but so does biting into a quarter-pounder with cheese.

I wouldn't say I was a total lard-arse, but fitness model material I certainly ain't. These days we're under increasing pressure to pump iron, our newsfeeds clogged up with skinny, tanned superfit bods, their proud owner beaming smugly from your phone as you tuck into your hummous dip....accompanied with a family-sized bag of Doritos. Or should I say DOH-ritos! I must remember to replace those with a carrot next time. Oh well.

Far from springing off the sofa and nipping out for a quick 5k's, I'm more likely to flip my phone over and reach for the sharing-size Salt and Vinegar Kettle Chips in defiance. My Sainsbury's delivery dude probably thinks I've got 6 kids with all these 'family fun-packs.'

"Prep Like a Boss!" is The Body Coach's strapline, gesturing to row upon boring row of sterile Tupperware boxes stuffed with various gut-churning greens. Oh, I prep like a boss alright mate....the boss of a chip shop.

Of course, I don't want to be a blubbery old bird. I've hit the gym....instructor. Well he was a smarmy git anyway....and it WAS an accident (I got a tad over-zealous with my free weights.)

Having a fit younger boyfriend is not without it's pitfalls either - Andy goes to BodyPump regularly and in a moment of madness I agreed to go to a couple of classes, see what all the fuss was about. Within minutes my eyes were bulging, teeth clenched as I strained to lift the weights above my head. I glanced casually around to check no-one was watching....and realised that everyone else had weights the size of manhole covers on each side, bar bending in the middle, whilst my spindly arms struggled with my piddly 3kg jobbies. The shame!

As I collapsed in a cardiac emergency I vowed to work out in the privacy of my own home in future. I bought a set of dumbells. They're working. Every time I trip over them they remind me how dumb I am. Andy suggested we take up running. So far the only running I seem to be doing is running out of money before the end of the month.

Then there's the diet. How anyone can drink those bile-inducing protein shakes is beyond me. I'd rather lick the bottom of a birdcage. Being hangry is no fun for anyone.

If God didn't want us to eat his cute animals why did he make them so goddamn tasty?

I know vegetarians preach about 'not eating anything with a face' but someone should remind them that even potatoes have eyes. How do you know if someone's a veggie? Oh don't worry, they'll fecking tell you!

Too much red meat is bad for you, I get that. It's not great for the cow, either. I have a weakness for sweet n' sour spare ribs, but who said they were spare? Not the pig, that's for sure.

Fruit and veg may be good for you, no-one's disputing that, but when was the last time you salivated over a salad, eh? Thought not. You'd never walk in at an inopportune moment to find your fella ogling a naked fruit salad on the Lad Bible site, would you now? But stick a big flappy kebab on his Food Porn feed and he's definitely perking up....

We all know a muffin top is unbecoming on anything other than, well, a muffin, but if you dress well ( ie shoehorned into Spanx in XXS) then at least your dietary misdemeanors can be pretty much concealed. Until, that is, you peel off your layers to reveal what looks like a cheap Iceland sausage bursting out of it's skin. Then it may be time to reign in the nightly gallon-drum of Chenin Blanc and invest in a padlock for the biscuit tin.

As Kate Moss  famously once  said....

"Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels."

She's obviously never tasted my local Indian's creamy kormas.

As soon as my jeans start to pinch, I resort to my tried-and-tested exercise regime...I go on a clubbing binge. Nothing snaps that waist into shape and planes inches off those hips faster than a weekend's raving, dancing furiously to house and techno tunage at any one of London town's myriad of hip haunts. Eager to keep up with my younger counterparts I dance Duracell-stylee all night long, the only calories passing my lips coming from the odd chewing gum or an energy-boosting vodka Red Bull, sweat pouring down my ruddy face. Sexy.

Come Monday, I may have bags under my eyes, but the ones on my butt have miraculously disappeared. Result!

Obviously being slim is no guarantee of health either. There's someone I see on my commute with a figure that'd make Elle 'The Body' Macpherson green with envy, but then she opens her mouth to reveal a set of Swiss-army teeth: rotten stumps and jagged bits all over the gaff. It's like a row of bombed-out houses. Yikes!

Whilst I've always considered working in a job that involves being on my feet for at least eight hours a day to be a disadvantage, now I credit all the running about after my customers with the fact that I'm not getting mistaken for Gemma Collins just yet. And seeing as I won't be able to afford to retire until around five years after I die then I should be fine. I'll probably reach my target weight round about the same time.

And as for the wrinkles appearing round my eyes, well of course Botox has entered my head....but I only have to take one look at Amanda Holden's expressionless waxwork mug and I decide to leave well alone (for now). I do have a few mates with foreheads as suspiciously smooth as hard-boiled eggs....but if I've got the hump I want people to know about it, ya get me?

So there you have it. If you get a buzz out of busting a gut at some hernia-inducing class at the gym then good for you.

Me? I'll stick to bustin' moves instead...

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