Every morning when I climb out of bed, I stretch my arms above my head until they almost click, then glance down at my belly where, from this angle, and for as far back as I can remember, the large round mound of flesh has dominated my vision.
These days it’s not as big. In fact I still get surprised when I catch sight of myself side on in a mirror by how much less is there. Yes my belly still protrudes; I am still an overweight man; but it’s not vast; it’s not as huge as it used to be.
With the exception of new 10 inches less round the waist jeans, I now live in a world of excessively baggy clothing. The chest pocket on every shirt sits much further down my torso; the sleeves are all too long; and the collars are far too wide, which has led to me becoming very aware of my neck. I probably don’t have a particularly long neck, but it’s definitely narrower than my head these days; it clearly separates my ears from my shoulders in a way that continually catches me by surprise.
The fleece I wear like an old cardigan in my study, so I don’t get cold when I’m writing in the only room in the house without central heating, was big when I bought it: XXXL from a company that was generous with it’s measurements to begin with. I was determined to own at least one item of clothing that wasn’t too tight and threatening to burst at the seams when I did it up. But now it’s quite ridiculous: I can fasten the zip with Maggie and me both in it together. Yesterday morning I turned round to see Meg wearing it, giggling at the way it went down to her shins while the sleeves dragged on the floor. She looked like she was wearing a small fleecy tent.
Last month I had to look smart(ish) for a meeting for the first time in over 2 years. My old business suits were all tailored for a man nearly 100lbs heavier, so were completely un-suit-able (sorry) for the purpose. We went to M&S where I was able to buy a jacket off the peg, which not only fitted, but wasn’t even their largest size. I still haven’t really got my head around that. I also bought a shirt with a collar size 4 inches narrower than I used to buy, but my body is still clearly mismatched with standard sizes. The sleeves were too long and the buttons bulged and stretched around my belly. I have never figured out why designers seem to believe you can judge a man’s shape purely by the size of his collar. Unless I tensed my stomach, the tighter fitting shirt seemed to accentuate my bulges and I found myself yearning for my ultra-baggy clothing again. I seem to have become comfortable living half-lost in large swathes of material.
At some point I would like a whole new wardrobe but, quite apart from the fact that we cannot afford it, I have absolutely no idea what would suit me these days. When I was last this size, big hair and shoulder pads were all the rage. I wonder if they’ll be coming back into fashion soon?