Dear Mary: How can I hide my lockdown weight gain?

Q. For professional reasons it is important that I am not fat. However I have put on more than a stone and a half during lockdown. This would not matter in the short term as I am not required to appear anywhere physically for some weeks and am already on a successful weight-loss programme. My problem is that one of my competitors, so to speak, rang to say that she is going to be in the area and could she drop in for lunch. My kind but unthinking husband picked up and told her that she would be welcome. Under no circumstances can I let her see how fat I

Covid has exposed our confusion about food

These past five Covid-buffeted months have shone a spotlight as never before on the choices we as a nation make about and around food. We are quite confused when it comes to eating. The government’s two recent messages on the subject are in conflict with each other: it’s our civic duty to ‘eat out to help out’, we’re told, but also we need to lose weight to protect the NHS. These muddled messages were evidenced by the somewhat mad poster advertising ‘eat out to help out’: after listing the practical terms of the scheme, the optimistic last line reads ‘Look out for better health choices’. I don’t know about you,

Fat-shaming didn’t do me any harm

One of the genuine pleasures I always take in arriving back in the north-east after being in London is that I am suddenly transformed from being an aged fat pig with bad teeth into a youthful, lissome creature with teeth no different to anybody else. It is not the clean air or the glorious countryside which has this effect; it’s just that everything is comparative. Giles Coren once observed that for every 50 miles you travel away from our capital, you go back in time about ten years. If this is true — and I suspect it is — then up here on Teesside we’re in the middle of that

If I don’t like being fat, I should be allowed to say so

The game was up when I put on a pair of size 14 jodhpurs at the country store and they almost fit me. ‘No no no no no no no!’ I said, backing away from the mirror. The builder boyfriend looked over from where he was taking the blonde wig off a mannequin and putting it on his head in an attempt to entertain the other customers, who were not laughing at all. He is the worst shopping companion. I looked back at myself in the mirror. Never have I been bigger than a 10 and now it seems I have passed from 10 to 14 without even pausing at

‘I feel compelled to be disgraceful’: Miriam Margolyes interviewed

I meet Miriam Margolyes in her large Victorian house in Clapham. She is very small and round, with a shock of grey hair, and the clear and open gaze of a curious child. There is an innocence to her, like someone who has not quite grown up. She has a wonderful voice, which bought this house. When it rests it is low and serious; but when she is telling a good story it takes flight. She is best known, now, for Harry Potter films and Blackadder; and for The Graham Norton Show which she dominates by speaking filth while looking delighted. This is deceptive though. When she wants, she can