As publication of my new novel, My Favourite Wife, draws closer, Fred Kindall steps up the training. You need to be a fit man to publish a novel these days. ‘It’s good to be alive,’ Fred exults, as I lie on the floor of his gym and he bounces a black medicine ball on my abdominal muscles. ‘You’re so lucky to be training,’ he screams, his favourite catchphrase. Fred is a boxer and so going to the gym no longer means sitting around watching Pimp My Ride on MTV. A boxer doesn’t exercise. He trains. The excess weight produced by your soft, affluent life just melts away in the presence of Fred. Every time he bawls in my face about how lucky I am to be training, I feel another couple of pounds drop away. I have lost a stone in the last year alone thanks to Fred, but now I have walked into the trap that ensnares so many middle-aged men — buying inappropriate trousers.