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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

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I’d rather talk about politics, NHS reform, anything, other than diets

Out of the blue, Twinkle made one of her life-changing affirmations – which is always a bit of a worry.

I’d suspected one was on its way. From what I could see of her facial expression, in the close to pitch gloom of the Golden Fleece room, something serious was about to be shared. And there’s no stopping her when that starts.

Please let it not be politics, I whispered to myself, taking a fortifying slurp of house white. Politics are indigestible with dinner. I’d rather have salad.

The problem is Twinkle’s politics are always so certain. Mine – like my faith, confidence, weight, dress size and empty wine bottles in the recycling box – fluctuate wildly. I prefer not to discuss them.

“I’m about to embark on a diet,” she announced. “Want some of these chips?”

Lord, I hate diet talk. So pointless. It burns no calories and makes you hungry.

But two things hinted at her heart not being in it. The chips, obviously – not a usual accompaniment with smoked fish and spinach ravioli. And the other? Well...

She might just as easily have said she was about to embark on a chaotically passionate, spontaneously illicit love affair. If you have to give notice of a start date, you’re not really that into it. Know what I mean?

“Diet? Why? You look sensational. Can’t we talk about the NHS Reform Bill?”

But she wouldn’t be distracted. And uninvited chips were appearing on my plate.

“Actually, I don’t normally do those with risotto,” I protested lamely – but to no avail.

We’d been mopping up what remained of Carlisle’s sales. Among our purchases, a black cardi for her – twinkly, of course. A brown one for me – plain. Both long enough to cover our ample bottoms. And such bargains.

There’d been a bit of a wobble (if you’ll pardon the expression) when her cleavage boiled over the discounted dress she’d tried in House of Fraser.

But that wasn’t her fault. There’s no finer cleavage and the frock had not so much a neckline as a navel-line. Nevertheless, that daft garment had brought on one of her “I used to be thin” moods.

Now we were doing an early doors dinner at Ruleholme, rounding off what had been a thoroughly pleasant day – in spite of fitting-room wobbles.

“When we shop, we buy camouflage,” she said. “We shop to cover up. Never to show off.”

We. I should have known there’d be a we on its way.

“Well, it’s true I’m not proud of my bum,” I conceded. “And I’d rather not inflict it on anyone else, if I can help it. But I bought lipstick too. I wasn’t planning on covering my bottom with that. What do you think of the Leveson Inquiry, by the way?”

There was no stopping her. Not even with politics. I have to give evidence to that long-running press ethics inquiry next month, which is worrying enough.

But suddenly my bottom was feeling distinctly unethical and unusually for a journalist – please don’t tell Lord Justice Leveson – I was warming to the idea of a cover-up.

She sighed: “I used to be thin, you know.” Told you.

“People will think I’ve let myself go,” she continued glumly, taking a second piece of fennel bread and a couple of olives from the pre-dinner nibbles dish she’d snatched back from the waitress.

“Maybe they’ll think we live well,” I offered.

“When I come back from holiday, we’ll diet.”

“Not immediately?”

“Obviously not. I’m going on holiday.”

Relief. She’s always going on holiday. No pressure, there then. No window of starvation opportunity any time soon.

“Fine. Do you think Andrew Lansley will keep his Cabinet seat?”

“You hate talking politics with dinner.”

True... but I hate talking diets an awful lot more.

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