Over body-confidence, laundry robbers, the Northumbrian pipes, and a man in white bow ties (Rousse)

Early one morning, before the shops opened, my sister S, my mother and I ran along the Ullapool esplanade. At the far end we stepped on the scales. My sister weighed in at 11 stone five, over two stone heavier than me.

Afterwards the three of us attended an end of term news session at the university.  I failed to recognise all the new staff who had been appointed during my time off sick. The majority were very overweight women, all of whom projected a misplaced pride in the unhealthy state of their bodies. One wore a lime green hooped hat that was so large that it covered her entire face, thus forcing those in the audience to look directly at her massive torso. Another danced on stage in a sparkling sequinned cocktail dress, mentioned something vague about her multimedia class, then stripped down to her enormous knickers.

I was ashamed to be associated with such performances, and felt sorry that my poor old mother had to experience them. To make up for this, afterwards I took her along to an open-air screening of an old comic film about robbers and their laundry hide-out. My mother actually paid little attention to the story, but instead enjoyed talking to the other cinema-goers, especially those with whom she shared a connection. She laughed happily with a black-lipsticked young woman over a small world story that was something to do with the Northumbrian pipes.

Meanwhile my sister J and I sat upstairs clocking the business men who visited the cinema as their first treat of the weekend before they headed home to spend the next two days in the countryside. I was particularly taken by a man in a white shirt and dozen white bow ties.

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