|Weighing machine, Luxembourg Gardens, Paris|
Image: Wikimedia Commons
A strange thing happened to me this week. I'd gone for my annual medical check-up at the doctor's surgery round the corner. The nurse read my blood pressure, took a blood sample, asked about my alcohol consumption — that kind of thing. I told her I'd been on a diet and had lost a stone quite easily, but was now finding it almost impossible to drop below 14 stone. She weighed me — and announced that my weight was 13 st 4 lb! And this is with clothes on (obviously I didn't want to frighten her by suggesting I removed them). Earlier I'd weighed myself at home with clothes off and the scales had read 13 st 13 lb. The nurse insisted her own scales — a hefty, industrial-sized model — were correct, and were regularly and rigorously calibrated. Who was I to disagree?
Delighted, I left the surgery in a state of euphoria and made a bee-line for the supermarket next door, where I bought some celebratory cakes, chocolate and a couple of bottles of wine. However, as soon as I got home, I began to have some doubts. What was going on here? We have two pairs of bathroom scales at home — one mechanical, one digital — and both always read the same. How could they both not only be wrong but also be so far out? I took 5 cans of baked beans, which I knew weighed 2 kg, and placed them on each pair of scales in turn. Yes, 2 kg exactly. How very odd all this was becoming.
I did eat the cake and chocolate, and I did drink the wine, and enjoyed them a lot, though I must admit my pleasure had been very slightly tainted. I'll have to try to weigh myself somewhere else for a final, cast-iron verdict. And that's another thing. Where have all the public weighing machines in Britain gone? They used to be outside every chemist's and in every public park. (And when did you last hear the word 'chemist's' rather than 'pharmacy' for that matter?)
I must be honest and say I do actually feel more like 14 stone than 13 stone. An okay weight for someone 6 ft 1 in tall, and I feel good, and all my trousers now fit beautifully. But I'd still rather lose another stone if I can. (Or if I haven't already, according to the nurse!)