ABOUT ME

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Morecambe, Lancashire, United Kingdom
In the mornings I’m a Nursery Cook, the rest of the time a Writer. Been writing for decades: short stories, plays, poems, a sitcom and more recently flash fiction, Creative Writing MA at Lancaster Uni and now several novels. Been placed in competitions (Woman’s Own, Greenacre Writers and flashtagmanchester) and shortlisted in others (Fish, Calderdale, Short Fiction Journal). I won the Calderdale Prize 2011, was runner-up in the Ink Tears Flash Fiction Comp & won the Greenacre Writer Short Story Comp 2013. I have stories in Jawbreakers, Eating My Words, Flash Dogs Anthologies 1 & 2 (Solstice : Light and Dark)100 RPM and the Stories for Homes anthology. My work’s often described as ‘sweet’ but there’s usually something darker and more sinister beneath the sweetness. I love magical realism and a comedy-tragedy combination. My first novel, Queen of the World, is about a woman who believes she can influence the weather. I’m currently looking for an agent with my 2nd novel, Fast Talking and working on a 3rd and 4th (Curls and Kite Children). Originally from the West Midlands, I love living by the sea in Morecambe, theatre, books, food, weather, sitcoms and LBBNML … SQUEEZE!

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

TWO TON TESSIE AND THE IMPOSSIBLE THING: HALFWAY


The Impossible Thing is ‘to find out what it’s like to not be fat’, something that, as an adult, I’ve no experience of. I didn’t want, nearly 18 months ago, to say ‘I’m going to lose 8 stone & 8 pounds’. It would’ve been, for those who’ve not met me in real life, a big fat arrow above my head with ‘And that’s how fat I am!’ emblazoned across it in embarrassingly sparkly letters. And a lot of pressure.

I worked out this amount based on a target of one pound under the top of the ideal weight range for my height/age. The pound under is to make it a grand total of 120 lbs, an easy figure to divide into stages.

So I’m halfway. Sixty pounds lost and - strange new meaning of the word - ‘only’ another sixty to lose. They’ll be harder of course. Impossible? Only time will tell.

I've been eating less but I'm not on a diet. I've learnt over the years I can't stick to them and when you stop you go a bit mad. I refuse to go to bed hungry. I've eaten a lot less of certain things over the past year & a half though. Less crisps, chips, cheese, chocolate ... & maybe some other things that don't begin with a C.

At the end of October 2015, I joined the health club, committing to swim at least nine times a month. Nine is the magic get-my-monies-worth number. I’ve now been swimming for seventeen months. Nine thousand lengths in the first year alone. In July I started cycling. Buying Brenda, my bicycle, was the highlight of 2016 for me. I began the year with no clue I’d be cycling again after 30-plus years and I absolutely love it. It only really feels like exercise when I go uphill.

 
 
Brenda

 

 Welsh Chippies

At the age of 17/18, I lost 4 stone through a slimming club. The woman who ran it became obsessed with me being her ‘Slimmer of the Year’. She told me about someone my height who’d ended up a size eight. ‘She wasn’t big boned after all!’ What a thing to say to a 6 feet tall teenager who arrived at a size 24 and still had stones to go.

There was no such thing as an interim target or a suggestion it was fine to get partway and work out how to maintain. Just a lot of meat. As much as you wanted. (A decade later I stopped eating meat altogether.) I got to within 3 stone of my too-strict target, went on holiday to Wales and put on 11 lbs in 10 days. Not sure I could manage that now and don’t want to try. Those Welsh chippies are good. This is what happens if you deprive yourself too much. Falling off the wagon onto a massive greasy chip butty. What a way to go!

But that was all a long time ago. And this next bit is even further back.

 

Two Ton Tessie

Okay. This is hard but here goes.

A list of names I got called at senior school, 1977-82:

1)      Fatty

2)      Big Bertha

3)      Tank

4)      Two Ton Tessie

5)      (As I walked into a room) ‘There’s a total eclipse of the sun.’ Also an occasional mention of tidal waves as I got into the pool.

6)      Hey Fatty Boom Boom (Sung of course. Only that part of the song. The rest is too … er … affectionate?)

(It’s all right. Feel free to laugh at any time.)

7)      Explosion noises to accompany each step I walked. (Do you stop walking or walk away?)

8)      A reaction as if I was about to go for them, possibly hit them. Running off/protecting themselves from the wrath of the scary giant girl.

 
1979. Sierra Nevada, Spain. The giant scary girl.
(That figure in the background is a long way off ...)
 
But I wasn’t angry and I never wanted to hit anyone. I was … EMBARRASSED & ASHAMED.

This kind of thing happened regularly. I hated going from lesson to lesson, the time it mostly happened. All boys of course. Perfect boys. They weren’t greasy-haired, spotty, lanky or ugly in anyway. Oh no. They were perfect.

Now of course you can google stuff you don’t understand but I couldn’t possibly have asked my parents what numbers 2) & 4) meant. It had to be kept secret. I was deeply, deeply ashamed. I mean, who’s fault was it they were calling me these names? Mine of course. How embarrassing. At one stage, I can remember making a conscious decision, at break times, to find the quietest place I could and sit completely still. Try to be invisible.




 
 
1980. Rhine Valley. That scary giant girl again, bless her.
 

 

1982. At school with one short friend & one skinny one. Three flicks!

 
          I’ve recently – finally – googled. Big Bertha is a weapon. Nice. Did they know this? Where did they get their information? Why do I still know nothing? Perhaps their parents had a book of ‘Names to Call Fat Folk’? If there's a book full I guess I got off lightly. Should I google?

And I found clips of Tessie O’Shea. Not sure about the massive shiny dresses, the fact she gave herself that name (or did she?) and sang about her double chins but I think I’d rather be her. She’s just a large jolly singing lady. I like her!

Better than being something used in warfare.


 
Tessie O'Shea - 'Two Ton Tessie'

Clothes

I have to admit to having a bit of girly streak when it comes to clothes. In November '15 I was walking to the pool (Walking. BB. Before Brenda) on a cold dark Sunday at 6.30am entertaining a fantasy about buying size 20 jeans. Now, I'm not saying everything you imagine comes true (My first novel was never made into a TV drama starring Christopher Eccleston, for example.) but 11 months later, I got there. I’ve packed away many of my size 26’s (will I need them again?) and brought a few new things along the way. Going into Monsoon (a shop I could never buy clothes from before) and buying jeans and a top really shouldn’t be as thrilling as I found it.

Waiting for my train home, I walked around Grand Central Station in Birmingham with my precious Monsoon bag and the words ‘size 20 jeans, size 20 jeans, size 20 jeans’ chanting in my head. Laughable when most women would think such a size was unheard-of-ly massive but for me an achievement. I have four items I’ve acquired, from charity shops or on sale, now hanging in my wardrobe that don’t fit but will. Impossible? We’ll see.
 
***

I plan to blog again soon with my tips. Ha! Me doing weight loss/fitness tips? How ridiculous!

Sal

10 comments:

  1. Good for you. I'm 20lbs into a planned 100lbs 'project' and found it inspiring, thanks! I got myself 100 marbles in a jar, and I move them into another container as I lose/gain the corresponding pounds. Sounds stupid, but I find it helps :-)

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    1. Thanks Jill. Keep up the good work. You've done a fifth. I like the marble idea. Not stupid at all AND you can do 'lost my marbles' jokes! :-) Keep going!

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  2. Sal, you are an inspiration and I congratulate you on a) your goal and b) your achievement to date. Your swimming and cycling are VERY impressive. I know you are not alone in feeling that the name calling was your shame. It wasn't. Keep us posted.

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    1. Thanks Lindsay. Really great to be able to 'tell' after far-too-many-years AND to be an inspiration. As for 'keep us posted' ... try and stop me! ;-)

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  3. Congrats Sal, your perseverance in achieving your goal is inspiring. Love that you refuse to go to bed hungry, you're not on a diet and losing weight through healthy choices and exercise. Can't wait for the tips.

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    1. Thanks Stella. Yeah, me tips are coming soon! Watch this space. ;-)

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  4. I find it hard to lose even 5 pounds. To reach my "ideal weight" I need to lose only 10 and that sounds simple enough, I guess. People can be so cruel, young people most of all, and I'm ashamed of them for the way they acted, not of the way you looked.

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    1. Thanks for your comment Madison. If I ever get to the last ten pounds I will find out how difficult that is. Hoping to cheat by just taking longer. A month to lose a pound? If that's what it takes ...

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  5. Well done, Sal. I love reading about your adventures and was thrilled when I saw Brenda, and love hearing what she gets up to. I can just see her as a character in one of your stories. Children are so cruel to each other. I bet it is they who carry that shame now. Do you find when you are swimming, you get inspired? Whenever I go swimming I use it as precious time to fink the fiction. So looking forward to hearing more and routing (pun intended) for you.

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  6. Thanks Rosie. I sometimes think I could write a story with Brenda at the centre. A whole novel from the point of view of a bicycle? That's just the sort of thing I would think of while swimming. Yes, I do plan writing & have ideas while I swim but I also obsessively count lengths and think about what I can eat when I get home. Yes, I have wondered whether name callers/bullies think about what they did all those years ago and feel bad. That's a story idea for me to work on one day. :-)

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