Luke Aldridge Feb 2019
I guess it must have started just over a year ago. My wife of ten years, Jane, decided that she’d had enough of me and ran off with some bloke from work, younger model, that sort of thing. I had gained a few pounds since we got married, that I can’t argue with but my weight gain really started when she left. I’m not much of a cook, the hours I work mean that the last thing I want to do when I get home is spend an hour or so preparing something that will be polished off in a few minutes so I order take away most nights. Since she left, I’ve got considerably more disposable income and frankly I don’t mind spending it on tasty meals. I out grew all of my clothes in that first month, buying new stuff until the number of Xs on the labels ran out and I could only wear stuff with elasticated waistbands from M&S. Half way through the second season of The Great British Sewing Bee I decided that I would take a clothes making course. Jane and I had often discussed it when that first season went out. I say that we discussed it, I voiced an interest and she laughed at me. She never was very supportive of my interests. I took a night class, once a week with a load of middle-aged ladies who all seemed to enjoy cooing over this chubby fella ten years their junior. I got my own sewing machine for home and practised making clothes for me and some dresses for my dear old mum. It wasn’t long before they were decent enough to wear out in public and I would even get the odd compliment, asking where I got a certain shirt from or whatever.
If the truth be told I don’t remember ever truly being comfortable in my skin. Not really. Even before the weight gain. When I was quite slender by my current standards, I still had a wobbly belly and a funny shaped, saggy bottom.
If I’m not comfortable in my skin then could I be comfortable in someone else’s?
One of those random thoughts that decided not to pass on but attach itself to the inside of my head and stay there for a couple of months. The lightbulb moment I guess was when I caught that film on the telly, started ten minutes in but I loved it. Oh crumbs, what’s it called? Won that Hopkins fella best actor I’m sure. Anyway, I caught that at just the right time, that thought still stuck in my head so I figured that I’d stop thinking about it and actually get on with it! I’m sure that it was never meant as an instructional video but that movie did help with those first few stages. How to meet the people in the first place, needing to have a nice roomy vehicle, somewhere to work where you wouldn’t be disturbed. I bought an old Transit, my friend Steve did a bit of work on it and I kitted out the back. I hired an outbuilding at a farm about half an hour away from my place, cheap, roomy, storage only but it’s amazing what you can get away with if you come and go at the right hours. I joined a Slimming World under a false name, that’s where I met the first lady. Janet, early thirties, librarian, single, shy, big but pretty and, oh my God, she had skin to die for. So milky and pure, no visible scars or tattoos, perfect. I finally plucked up the courage to ask her out for a drink by the third week, I thought she’d say no but to my surprise she was keen. We went for dinner, a walk down by the canal and the rest, as they say is history. Number two was Tina, Jessie followed, Marie and Janet number two after her. I had joined quite a few different Slimming Worlds by this point and to be honest I had stopped remembering names, they just all started to blend into one. I made some improvements to the method of the bloke in the film, Ben….. no, that’s not right….. Bob? Oh, I’m such a scatter brain, it’ll come to me. He just seemed to be all punchy punchy, bundle them into the van, chuck them down a well and done in three days. Well, I can tell you, when you don’t have a handy well at your convenience and noise could be an issue then you have to adopt, adapt and improve.
I found that cutting out the tongue and sewing the lips shut worked nicely. Obviously, you have to drug them first, just knocking them out can result in them waking up while you’re trying to work and frankly if you take any pride in your cross stitch then you’ll want it to be neat and consistent with even spacing between your stitches. Once it’s a bit wonky thanks to struggling you’ll never un-see that. What a nightmare! I also made the time span longer. With a bit of experimentation, I decided on five days rather than three, barely feeding them and keeping them well watered, cuts down on the bloating and makes it much easier to cut the material. That whole lotion in the basket thing, I can’t say that I needed it but each to their own, eh? Honestly, I thought I was going to have a nightmare removing it from the body, I practised on various animals before-hand, rabbits mainly but it was a nice excuse to shut up next doors dog once and for all! If you can get that Goldilocks moment then it just lifts away, clean as anything. The consistency is more rubbery than I first thought. After Janet I practised on various poly-based materials, rubber, PVC and so on, simply so that I could cut down on my mistakes and get used to how it feeds through the machine, how it moves, how it behaves. I can tell you, once you’ve sewn it there’s no unpicking and going again, the holes are there staring you right in the face. Patrick and Esme would have sent me home on that week, no doubt!
I’ve lost count of how many went into making the suit, after the first dozen it didn’t really seem important, I just had to finish it. And when I say suit, I mean a beautifully crafted three piece, not that hideous thing that whatshisface makes. BILL!! That’s his name, Bill. No, his is such a botched job, terribly workmanship. And a girl suit? Come on, I’m not making a girl suit, what do you think I am, some sort of pervert?! No, I simply wanted a comfortable three-piece suit, cut to my shape, easy to move in and something to turn heads out in town. Well, it’s all finished now and I’ve certainly ticked all of those boxes! I just have no idea how to get the smell out…….