The sun came out – now all I want is to wear a T-shirt without feeling embarrassed

For a while, it looked as if the biggest after-effect of the pandemic’s latest wave would be eternal rain – all day and all night, stopping us from wanting to go outside even though we’re allowed to. Amazon would have seen this coming, and gone big on raincoats, further cementing their dominance, while still not making Jeff Bezos happy. Eventually, it would have reached the point where Bezos had every single bit of money in the world, and we would have to go out into the rain to open our mouths like baby birds, as Bezos-copters flew above us dropping small nutrition balls from the sky. We would have to scrabble and claw at each other for these balls, maybe even sometimes deciding to eat each other instead.

Thankfully, though, the sun came out, and all that looks less likely now. But the hot weather comes as a mixed blessing for awkward fat gentlemen like me. On the one hand, I am delighted that it’s now OK to be eating a Magnum at any time; nobody will judge you. Also, you can happily walk around a children’s farm or a theme park with a beer in your hand when it’s sunny. Do that when it’s cold and rainy, and it feels as if someone is going to come up and stage an intervention.

The downside of the hot weather is the T-shirt. Whenever people talk about fitness goals and targets (to add muscle mass, to drop body fat percentage), all I can think is that for my whole life, I have just wanted to be able to wear a T-shirt without feeling embarrassed. Layers are the awkward fat man’s friend, awkward fat being that level of fat where you don’t look good with it. You have weird bulges, so that when people put their arm around you for a photo, they say things like, “Oh, so that bump there is actually you!” or, “You don’t look overweight in the face, though – it’s just that area.” I did a gig the other day and everyone on the bill wore T-shirts. I felt too awkward, and wore a summer jacket, and all that happened was that my belly poked out from it every time I moved, as if it were a double-act partner who was tired of being hidden away.

T-shirts on my body have much to contend with: there are the moobs; the jut of my belly; the love handles that are so prominent that when I was once fitted for a grass skirt by an old tribesman in Sri Lanka, he declared that he had never seen a body like it. You also have the overhang of my belly, followed by legs so disproportionately skinny that I look like what is known in the car trade as a cut and shut.

It’s all incredibly stressful. If you get a T-shirt too small, you look like a sausage breaking out of a skin. If you get a T-shirt big enough to conceal the contours, you look as if you are wearing a smock. There is a sweet spot, however, where your body is pretty much covered up, and you don’t resemble a walking tent. On occasion, you may think you are wearing a sweet-spot T-shirt, then you see yourself in a shop window reflection and realise you’ve made a horrendous error. So, the next time the weather is scorching, and you see me wandering around Chessington in a parka, please don’t judge. Just leave me to enjoy my beer and ice-cream.

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