Fiona Duff: Sunshine and ice cream makes me a fat priest

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My mother has an expression about how some people “have the luck of a fat priest”. I’m sure you can conjure up the image – a joyously overweight man whose parishioners leave him wanting for little; the fat of a juicy steak being licked from one corner of his mouth whilst expensive claret drips from the other.

We all know the type. The friend who only swotted one topic in history and that was the main question in the Higher exam; the person who drives through town and all the lights turn green or she who pops into TK Maxx for five minutes and emerges with a designer dress that cost peanuts.

I tend to have more in kindred with the monk in sack cloth who dines on gruel. Lights turn red as I approach and I can spend heaps of money on a dress that looks like something from a charity shop when I put it on.

But something has gone right. We have spent this week on holiday in the UK in one of the longest runs of good weather in living memory. After our last summer break in the UK ten years ago we swore to leave these shores. The picture editor of a magazine for which I was writing a travel feature on that particular sojourn actually phoned to check that the photos I had sent in had indeed been taken in June. She couldn’t understand why my children were wearing duffle coats on the beach.

We didn’t have the highest of hopes before we set off. I looked out cagoules, playing cards and books to pass the time indoors and my daughter even packed her wellies. But here we are, me sunburnt and the children having learnt to surf.

So now I know how it feels to be lucky. We are basking in this lovely weather on the beach and haven’t even had to bring along a phrase book. Of course, there is always a downside. To ease the heat we have had a great time sampling all the various ice creams on offer. When my mother sees me next the reason she might use the expression “fat priest” won’t have anything to do with the good fortune I have just experienced.

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