UK Poet, Philosopher & Artist Ivor Griffiths' Official Website


An Interview with The Diet Mentor

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

I met the Diet Mentor on a cold day in August 1993 on Hampstead Heath. I wasn’t so sure about the venue, and felt nervous. It’d been raining and the leaves looked like they’d soon be turning. It had been a strange year: a washout. Much like 2007, poor old Tewkesbury Upon Avon turning into Tewkesbury-in-Avon. I felt so sorry for those poor folks. Anyway it’d been raining all day and at about four o’clock in the afternoon the light had begun to fade.

I stood shuffling from foot to foot pondering on the nature of diet. I was extremely over weight at the time and was actually rather hungry, looking forward to my third Big Mac of the day. All of a sudden a huge elephantine man came walking towards me. He had a big bushy beard and wore a hat like Gandalf’s, the beard was somewhat grey and tobacco stained. He smiled widely beneath the bristles showing yellow stained teeth. He carried a part eaten and part wrapped burger in one hand and a carton of coke in the other. His dark green tweed jacket was so big the weight of the cloth made the pockets hang half way down his tree trunk thighs. These looked more tree like than they otherwise might given that they were cocooned in dark brown corduroy that flapped as he walked. The sheer size of him reminded me of a chestnut tree.

He stuffed the burger in his mouth and then stretched out his hand to shake mine all the time nodding. He quickly withdrew his hand and methodically chewed before he emptied his mouth, then as he raised up the empty burger-wrapper he slurped on his coke. With a dramatic gesture he wiped his mouth with the greasy wrapper, before throwing it to the ground.

“Hi, pleased to meet you, I am The Diet Mentor,” he said, again shaking my hand enthusiastically.

My quizzical frown was sufficient to launch him into a well-rehearsed story.
“Look, you don’t have to be thin to tell people how to lose weight. Look I don’t want to, but that’s me. I know it’s bad but I can’t help it,” he said through the chewing.

I couldn’t help but notice the glint of sunlight that reflected from a the top of a brick wall just behind the small copse. It seemed to bounce off the ketchup stains that adorned his large silk tie that hung loosely from beneath his chins, the top button of his splattered silk shirt looked like it had never been fastened. He sweated profusely even though it was cold and seemed to pant, even after the slightest of movements.

I considered my own girth in the light of my astute and journalistic observations. Yes, I’m not that fat I’d thought naively. I considered myself to be rather clever at that point. The Mortgage Mentor clearly had many issues unresolved. Why, I thought, a man of at least thirty-five stone a Diet Mentor. He can hardly walk. And he could not: he walked, no staggered, for about fifty more yards and then headed, as if with an urgent purpose, one arm out stretched, the other grasping his flapping jacket, towards the nearest bench. He collapsed in a heap both great arms placed either side of him.

He removed his Gandalfian hat to reveal a head as bald as a billiard ball. It shone, indeed gleamed, decorated as it was with a patina of sweat. It had a red tinge to it. His hair began about two inches down the side of his head and flowed in grey locks to below his shoulders. His chest heaved at the effort and he belched sotto voce numerous times before I sat down beside him, moving the hat to accommodate my slighter girth. Notebook in hand and pen poised I began to speak.
“Are you gay?” He asked me.
“Erm, no, I’m married actually,” I replied. I felt instinctively defensive in the presence of the Mentor.
“So you want to lose weight, right?” He asked, eyeing my stomach that struggled to break free of my starched white shirt.

“Well no actually I’m here from Lose The Gut the diet magazine, you left us a message to meet you here,” I’d said, now wondering as to The Diet Mentor’s motives for meeting me in this place,
“Oh I thought you were from Slap The Fat, the contact mag,” he said, then sat back open mouthed.
I dropped my pen before he started to laugh.
“Lighten up man,” he said then smiled as he threw the empty carton of coke over his shoulder.
“What do you need to know?” He asked me.