Saturday, February 05, 2005


Consequences of Being Too Overweight

Lady Penelope, Duchess of Frith, was born with a silver spoon in her mouth, except in her case it was more like a shovel. When she married, in 1821, she had 84 servants and an income of £2 million a year. Then in 1829, she took a sea voyage to Australia and was shipwrecked on a desert island.

She was the only survivor. Her husband, her lady-in-waiting, her three maids, her seamstress and her hairdresser all perished, along with the ship’s crew and the captain’s parrot. When her plump twelve stone body finally washed up on the shore, she was utterly alone. She didn’t even have a lipstick.

The first day was the worst. With no servants to pamper her and no idea of how to cook food – let alone catch it – Penelope went hungry. In fact, she was beginning to think that going to Australia hadn’t been such a good idea after all. Fortunately, on the second day, Lady Luck (no relation) smiled on her.

While wandering through the jungle hills, she suddenly came across a large detached hut, complete with balcony and sea view. The name on the front door said ‘Mr R. Crusoe.’ She rang the bell and went inside to see who was at home. But the place was empty. ‘I’ll take it’ she thought, and moved in straightaway.

Later that evening, dining on various items which she unearthed from the overgrown vegetable patch at the back of the hut, Penelope took her first big decision: no more vegetables! She needed meat and plenty of it, so next day she went in search of a four-legged lunch and in the process came across a number of large barrels which had been washed up on the beach during the night.

When she opened them, she found to her delight that they were packed with food from the ship: bacon, corned beef, biscuits and rum. There was enough food to last her for years! She dragged everything back to the hut and started bingeing.

In fact, over the next three months, she wolfed down fifteen hundred rashers, forty tins of corned beef fried in fat, no vegetables and not a single piece of fruit. In addition, she munched her way through two thousand biscuits and gulped down half a barrel of rum. Result? She put on two stone.

At first, it didn’t bother her. It was winter, the island was lashed with monsoon rains and there was nothing to do except stay at home. But by the time Spring arrived, Penelope decided to lose some weight. After all, she wanted to look good when she started sunbathing on the beach.

Unfortunately, like many slimmers, Penelope was too fond of herself to give up the biscuits and the rashers, so after a week of lettuce leaves and yams she pulled out her home-made frying pan and made herself a huge desert island fry-up. After that, it was back to more bingeing. Result? By May, she was fifteen stone and hardly able to get to the beach let alone sunbathe on it.

This lack of mobility finally brought her to her senses and so in June she began a sensible diet with lots of good food. She ate lots of fruit and vegetables, lots of fish and only a little red meat. In addition, she cut down on alcohol and avoided biscuits altogether. Result? By mid-July, she was a stone lighter and felt much better.

Alas, it was too little too late. One afternoon in late July, cannibals arrived and poor Penelope, Duchess of Frith, was still too fat to run away fast enough. Result? She was basted in fat, covered in bacon and roasted in a rum sauce.

The moral? If you want to look good on the beach, this year, don’t leave it to the last moment to start dieting. Do it now!

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