Ever since our local Biddermouth on Sea department store revealed its latest swimwear collection my friends Vera, Hilary and Lila have been in the grip of a rejuvenation programme that has seen them trying to turn back fifty years’ worth of strong tides in the space of two weeks, which I have to say will be quite a challenge. Not that any of them plan on taking a dip but there is nothing like a burst zip on last year’s spring frock or the sight of a leopard print thong to make you realise June won’t be the only thing ‘busting out all over’ if you keep eating pies.
However, as usual because none of the girls can ever agree on anything, instead of supporting each other they are all going about it in their different ways. Why they couldn’t have signed up for the ‘Slim and Trim’ club I don’t know. Well I do. According to Vera it was a waste of money. She reckoned Karen Braithwaite had been going there for six months and had recently had to have extra panels sewn into all her kaftans.
‘She can say what she likes about it being a colour co-ordinated stripe, but if you ask me it’s a sure sign of a lack of commitment.’
Lila said, what could you expect when Karen spent the whole of the exercise class touching other people’s toes because she couldn’t reach her own?
So based on the assumption that ‘Slim and Trim’ was money for old rope, Hilary has gone lo-carb no-carb because she claims that was why all the Middleton family looked so good at the Royal Wedding; Lila has bought a large elastic band she saw advertised on a shopping channel that turned an obese housewife from Iowa into Cameron Diaz in under week and Vera has got her hands on a stolen blender courtesy of her delinquent grandson Dwayne. This means she now starts her day with a glass of broccoli and cornflake purée.
‘It’s an acquired taste,’ she said, ‘mind you I’ve never felt so full of get up and go.’
Hilary, on the other hand, reckons this is due to the diet pills she washes down with it.
‘I tell you Maureen,’ she said, ‘I’d no more buy tablets off that grandson of hers than fly. I mean you’d think Vera would have learned her lesson when that slow cooker he gave her for Christmas exploded on Boxing Day because it was wired for export only. God only knows what she’s swallowing but all her lights are still on at three in the morning and don’t tell me you get that lease of life from raw vegetables.’
Mind you with that coming from a woman who thinks chocolate éclairs can’t be fattening because choux pastry is full of air I’m not convinced she’s right and I don’t believe that was how Princess Catherine got her figure back after that baby either. Neither does my neighbour Beattie.
‘You mark my words Maureen,’ she said, ’it will all end in tears. I mean it’s not as if any of them were belles of the ball at school to start with.’
Well having seen some of their old school photos I put that down to a large punnet of sour grapes. Lila Peartree, as she was then, was a dead ringer for Sandie Shaw, Hilary had a gymslip you could just about see below her cardigan and Vera, believe it or not, looked like Twiggy, only thinner. My neighbour, on the other hand, looked as though the Swinging Sixties had swung right by without her even noticing. Even at fifteen she was wearing what she refers to as ‘timeless classics’.
Poor Kevin at the Bona Curl Salon took one look at the picture of the ‘Class of 64’ and asked if the fat woman at the back with the perm was the teacher?
However, hair-do’s and body image issues aside the spring fitness drive has already claimed it first victim. Well to be honest we all thought Dot Dobson was on a hiding to nothing when she bought that tracksuit let alone started jogging. I mean when you’ve already got a sister with a walking frame you’d have thought she’d have been a bit more careful. But no.
‘Luckily somebody she knew found her clutching her chest with one hand and the promenade railings with the other and called an ambulance,’ said Beattie. ‘Still I’d keep a few days clear in your diary Maureen, by all accounts Dot’s lips are still a funny colour so you never know we may be called upon to dab our eyes and pretend we’re sorry she’s passed over.’
Of course, all this healthy living has led to some very sorry coffee mornings at the Silver Lantern café, what with Vera only drinking hot water with a slice of lemon and not being able to sit still for more than two minutes and nobody daring to tell Hilary just how many calories there are in three éclairs plus we haven’t seen Lila for a couple days either.
According to her husband she’s been decorating the spare room for when her sister comes from America. According to Kevin, who has a friend Kurt in the double glazing business, all her attempts to rival Cameron Diaz came to nothing when that elastic band shot off her foot and fired an ornament off the top of the telly and clean through one of her patio doors.
And according to Beattie it’s true.
She’s already been round to check and apparently if you lean right out of Myra Stansome’s back bedroom window and crane your neck you can see the boarded-up window quite clearly….
To view my books ‘Bell, Book & Handbag’ and ‘Tourist Trouble & other short stories’, ‘A Festive Falling Out’ and ‘Turkey And All The Trimmings’ all featuring Maureen, Beattie and their friends from Biddermouth on Sea please click HERE
All Things Biddermouth ©Ian Ashley 2018