Wednesday 18 December 2002

The name's Dring, Simon Dring

Despite my rapidly encroaching thirtyness (just a few weeks away for those planning to buy me fantastic presents) I'm the fittest I've ever been. When I walk, mountains roll swiftly beneath my toned legs, in the gym, no machine can withstand the muscle-packed onslaught of my mighty limbs. Breathing, I inflate to Arnie-like proportions as air fills my efficient lungs and oxygen energises my powerful heart.

Of course you wouldn't be able to tell any of this by looking at me, my body-shape takes little notice of my cardiovascular strength. As a result I stood quaking before the wardrobe on Friday evening and prepared for the toughest of all body yardsticks - could I still fit into my dinner jacket for the Christmas party?

The dinner jacket is older than me, a gift from my father when I started University. It's hewn from thick, unyielding material that causes indigestion and stomach cramps in a trice if my waistline has expanded beyond the confines of the trousers.

I updated the dress shirt that came with it, a necessity when I realised my father's neck is two inches smaller than mine, although I did wear it at upwards of twenty events - twenty faint, dizzy, strangulated events - before I made the purchase.

With warm spoons and Vaseline I successfully shoehorned myself into the outfit, scoring a neutral result on waist size for another year's eating and exercising.

Wearing black tie get-up is a treat, I feel truly glamorous when in harness with red velvet cummerbund and black silk bow tie, but because it only happens once a year I always forget until two minutes before I am due to leave the house that I still can't tie the bow tie. I've learnt to always carry two bow-ties now, a fake for those times when everyone I meet before the event is as cack-handed as I, and a genuine one to hang artfully untied around my neck when midnight strikes. This year I remembered to practise before the event and achieved a presentable knot, woo hoo, another life skill attained.

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