Squishing my pear into an itsy-bitsy polka dot bikini

Are you,” asked Rachel at the office, “an apple or a pear?”

“Beg your pardon?”

These were not, it turns out, two of my five a day, which as we all know can be totted as follows: bar of fruit and nut chocolate (two); Jaffa cake (one); showering with anything from the Body Shop (one) and ice cream with raspberry topping (one).

This was all about body shape and how women look in bikinis.

I always fancied I had an hourglass figure until someone who, as always remains nameless, observed that all the sand had run through to the bottom.


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I considered the question carefully. Did Rachel mean a conference pear or a William? I would sooner be a conference because they have a more elegant shape than the William, which can be a little lumpy at the top end. All right, if we must go down that path, I am a little lumpy at the top end but not in the same way as a William which tends to be irregular all the way round where as I am pretty symmetrical along the front elevation.

Though I tend towards pear (I must do because someone once looked at me and said “what a nice pear”), neither of these fruit truly expresses my anatomical individuality.

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I may not be the sylph-like Lynne of the ‘80s but I still have womanly curves; rather a lot of them as it happens – probably enough for two women or an economy bag of pears.

It set me to wondering (a) if should I wear a bikini again this summer and (b) what fruit or vegetable most closely equates to my body.

On point (a) I have been asked to say that you are not, repeat, not at risk.

You do not need to get out the little booklet that went round in the ‘60s and create a Lynne-in-a-bikini fallout shelter.

There is no need to take your pets indoors or paint out the windows. I will not be parading myself in an itsy-bitsy two-piece.

I shall be confining myself (if I don’t, someone else will) to a deckchair in the garden with a glass of weak Pimms (three of my five a day: mint, cucumber, strawberry) and the crossword.

My man will refresh my glass, shielding his eyes from the glare of my white flesh.

It won’t be a yellow polka-dot bikini. A few years ago I had a yellow swimsuit which instantly became see-through when wet.

We were on holiday on Lake Garda, in Italy and it was hot. Our hotel wasn’t air conditioned and so I pulled on my yellow swimming costume and rushed out to the pool and slipped into the shallow end.

I realise this is probably too much information, but it’s at times like that you wish you’d had a Brazilian.

My husband was in the deep end with the kids and they were larking about the way dads and kids – but especially dads – do.

I moon-walked over to my husband where I trod water.

“I need a towel to get out of the water,” I whispered.

“There’s one on the sunbed…”

“I can’t get out of the water without a towel.”

“Why not?”

“Look at me…”

“Crikey… yes, I’ll get a towel… I’ll get two towels. Ruth, Mark, don’t look at your mother.”

You can stop inwardly screaming now because I am moving on to decide which fruit or vegetable most nearly approximates to the shape of my body and, before you write in with suggestions, I’m ruling out potatoes because they can be indeterminate.

I am quite tempted by a butternut squash. It has a bulbous bottom and that’s not a bad match. It is also a bit more exotic than a vegetable marrow.

If I could use a combination of greengrocery I would go for a shallot, a large carrot, two courgettes, a large melon, two bananas, 20 asparagus spears and a couple of ripe figs.

It’s a shame really. If I had eaten more healthy foods (see above) I would probably still be a French bean instead of a broad one.

Putting on the ritz... i must be crackers

The babes are back in town – with support act.

Yes, Mark and his bride-to-be Caitlin, plus the other three thespians who make up The Pantaloons are, even now, somewhere in my house.

I’m not going to look because there’ll be one just behind the door.

The Pantaloons are a delightful troupe of travelling players who, for the last six years, have been performing Shakespeare outdoors.

And sleeping indoors; sometimes here.

In the great tradition of wandering minstrels, they are always hungry, often a little bit grubby but immense fun. (I looked and there was one behind the door). Since I have been ordering food online, catering to the needs of starving actors is easier.

I just multiply my usual order by four and buy a few odds and ends to make it look as if I’ve thought it through. I am not a natural in the kitchen.

Both my friends called Jane have a natural flair for large-scale catering.

“I’m doing lunch for 10 so why don’t you come too and bring the family,” says Jane the Younger, talking on her mobile while knocking up a delicious croissant dessert.

“The family barbecue is on August Bank Holiday weekend,” says Jane the Slightly Elder. “I think we’ll only be 15 this year.”

Her husband is in charge of the barbecue; he therefore has an apron and a special turny thing to make sure the sausages are equally black on all sides.

I go into a flat spin if I have to cater for even two extra people and this is because they must be seduced into thinking we live graciously despite the lack of a butler.

There must be napkins and a jug of water on the table; a side plate; a butter knife and, of course, a dessert fork.

My goodness, how did we ever manage to get food in our mouths before dessert forks?

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