In Commentary, HOME, LIFE by Sam Prance

As I write this, it is 13:36 on a Thursday, and I am half a bottle of wine down. And I am not ashamed. Should I be doing work? Probably. But it is a sad but true fact that life is difficult, and life isn’t very pleasant a lot of the time, so sometimes you have to put on ‘Let’s Dance’ by David Bowie and drink half a bottle of wine at lunchtime. This is easier, obviously, for students like me, and slightly more difficult for the working man or woman who might find it a little difficult to down half a bottle of rosé on a twenty minute lunch break.

Coming from what I didn’t (until recently) realise was a relatively middle class family, I was a little bit unaware as a kid. I used to eat a lot. My grandma gave us all ten pounds a week, which I now realise is far too much to give an irresponsible eight year old. Being the sensitive, friendless and socially terrified child that I was, I used to spend this entire ten pounds on chocolate. Sweets. Crisps. Whatever was at the Spar, really. It was a comfort. Food can be like drugs. This, I believe, is why so many children in our country are overweight. Firstly, we don’t really do enough to stop bullying in schools, and secondly, we make chocolate taste too damn delicious. It’s addictive. It provides a distraction from that boy who threw a giant snowball at your leg and made you cry. It provides a distraction from that girl who kept asking you why you cried so much, and you didn’t know how to express, at eight years old, that you probably are just quite depressed and don’t really know why you cry so much.

I went through a bit of rough patch at thirteen. I’d always been a little bit overweight. And it was fine. My mother had always been, and we felt no guilt about eating far more than was healthy. It tastes good, doesn’t it? If we could afford it, who was to stop us? Cheese and crisp sandwiches are pretty good. Cheese and chocolate were my weaknesses. I could sit there and eat Crunchie after Dairy Milk after Curly Wurly after Flake and Wispa and Snickers. But not Mars bars. I don’t like Mars bars. I would sit there on the sofa, on one cushion (I liked that my entire length, sat up, would take up just one sofa cushion diagonally) with my plastic Spar bag, rustling out every chocolate bar Cadbury’s and Mars ever produced. I’d eat them all. I never got sick of them. I don’t know how. Now, in my old age of nineteen and a half, I can barely finish off an entire bar without wrapping it up, half-eaten, and putting it down for a bit.

My father used to say it was a vicious circle. We ate because we were unhappy, and we were unhappy because we ate. He was right, really. I was unhappy for many reasons – loneliness perhaps being the most important – and overeating was a side effect. One April many years ago, my family and I were out at Pizza Hut for my older brother’s birthday. Being the champion overeater that I was, I was the only child who ordered dessert. And as soon as I did, my older brother looked at me, and snorted at me like a pig.

That’s one of the more mortifying and scarring moments of my life, I suppose. It sounds a bit melodramatic, but we all have those memories of things that just come back to us every now and again. I’ll always remember that moment, because it’s a moment in which I stopped and began to realise just how unhappy I was. I was living with a mother who couldn’t take care of me because she couldn’t really yet take care of herself. I was living with a brother who called me fat. He made fun of my weight – little did he know I probably ate so much because he made me feel quite miserable quite a lot of the time. I was living with a father who was at work most of the time, and who I didn’t get to spend much time with. The independency thrust on me as a child is probably why I’m such an independent adult, both in the way that I take care of myself, and in that I like to spend a lot of time alone.

Drinking a bottle of wine, alone, is not the worst you could be doing. It may feel like it when one is not drinking the wine (because during the wine drinking, all one really feels is that they are the best dancer alive, right?) The reason I connect the wine drinking at half one and my Olympic overeating is because they are both comforts. It is ok for us each to find comfort in something, whether that’s food, alcohol, sex, or even just in another person. My overweight period ended when I (fairly foolishly) tried a sort of starvation ‘diet’ at fourteen, and it’s one of the bigger mistakes I’ve made. People treated me differently, and I wish they hadn’t. I wish I’d begun to feel who I was properly, because then maybe people would have treated me differently because of that. People would have had the chance to see who I really had the potential to become. I’m no Adonis, or Einstein, of course. Nobody is. But I have my moments, as we all do, of being a good person. And that’s something no pig snort or mean kid at school can ever take from me.

Tim Doble.

Tim Doble is a student at the University of London. If you were to read his twitter bio, you’d find out that he is a writer and a musician. You’d also find out that he refers to himself as a ‘voluntary meglomaniac’. His interests lie in X Factor, Rufus Wainright, Kate Bush and wine, lots of wine. If you wish to find out more about Tim check out his Twitter here.

This article was originally posted on Tim Doble’s personal blog: Better Than Today.

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