If you’ve never spent a Sunday afternoon in Devizes Town Hall then you should. I was there for an hour and a half today and I can think of no better way to pass the time between Lidl shutting its doors to the public and Evensong’s evening kick off.
What made today’s post meridian fun even more splendid was the presence of comedienne, actress, author and love of my life, Arabella Weir who read some passages from her first two books, gave witty and spontaneous answers to questions and made me really, really laugh. She’s probably best known for the character that she played in The Fast Show that coined the phrase ‘Does my bum look big in this?’ but there’s such a lot more to her than that. She is one of those people who are just naturally funny and able to entertain a crowd without a comedy script. I really admire people like that.
The trouble is that her books and her talk this afternoon were about how her battle with an obsession for food and a desire to be ‘slim and gorgeous’ have caused emotional scarring down the years from her being a child. I loved the fact that she could talk in such an amusing way about something that has so obviously been extremely difficult to deal with. People always laugh at me when I’m describing incidents that have caused me distress, even when I don’t expect them to. I wonder if Ms Weir and I are related.
Her life’s tale is retold with women in mind, the vast majority of who go through their lives worrying about their size and shape. She apologised to the large male presence amongst the audience on the assumption that we wouldn’t understand what she was on about but what she said sparked in my mind too. Bits of my life have been very similar to hers. She described at length the constant need to be eating and how she struggled with her Scottish Presbyterian parents’ theory that food was only there to keep you alive and not to be enjoyed, but she never mentioned a twenty four hour a day desire for a pint of Guinness such as the one that blights my life and pushes the tensile strength of the elastic in my skiddies to its limits.
She said something that I have always thought but have never dared to say for appearing to challenge the adoring masses. She said “Delia is brain dead” referring to the way Delia Smith knocks out recipe after recipe after recipe on the telly without displaying even a glimmer of humour or charisma, and she said “All that stuff Nigella says is bollocks. Cooking on a day to day basis to feed and nourish your family isn’t fun, it’s just drudgery”.
But Arabella talked about other aspects of her life and career too which were interesting as well as comical. She said that the funniest people that she had ever met were Simon Day (Dave Angel Eco-Warrior being one of the characters he played in The Fast Show) and Bob Mortimer, and that it was my all-time hero, Alexei Sayle, who had told her twenty five years ago that she herself was funny enough to be writing comedy material for a living.
Arabella is exactly one month younger than I am. After the gig we had a little chat for a minute while she signed a copy of her latest book for me and my heart fluttered. And her bum isn’t all that big really you know!
Be still my fluttering heart!