Chastened Vinny joins the battle against the bulge
Inspired by golfer Darren Clarke, the burly busman vows to shed a few stone by St Stephen’s Day
The new-look Darren Clarke shows the fruits of his fitness regime. Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images
As the star attraction of the night entered the room, tall, tanned and toned, Vinny Fitzpatrick sank his bulging buttocks a little lower in his seat and considered the enormity of the challenge in front of him.
It had been Angie’s idea to buy two tickets for an evening with Darren Clarke at The K Club.
But that would have been to defeat the purpose of their visit, which was to see and hear for themselves how Clarke, a self-confessed fatty and renowned stout-slurper, managed to shed four-and-a-half stone in four months.
“Look, if Darren Clarke can do it, anyone can,” implored Angie as Vinny made the case for leaving things as they were.
“I’m nearly 57, and happy in my own skin, even the saggy bits,” he said.
Only deep down into his many layers of epidermis, Vinny wasn’t at all comfortable with how he looked.
He joked to the lads about it when the subject was raised in Foley’s but as soon as the bedroom door closed and he undressed, what he saw saddened him greatly.
He had a monstrous bulging stomach, one which had taken years to cultivate, flabby door handles on his hips, and a backside you couldn’t miss with a big stick.
As for his moobs, he reckoned he had a bigger chest now than Angie.
And if Barbara Eden ever popped out of her bottle, he knew what he’d ask for: to see his toes again when he stood up, just one more time – not that his toes were pretty.
According to Clarke, all it took was 22 minutes in the gym every day for a month, coupled with a dietary change. He quipped that he never knew there were so many ways to make broccoli interesting.
“Twenty-two minutes!” thought Vinny. “That was less than half of a half of a game of ball.”
Now that Clarke had reached his goal weight, his gym routine was down to three visits a week. He still enjoyed a jar and joked that gin, not Guinness, was his new tipple.
Around the room, the audience, which included many females in their thirties noted Vinny, were all hooked on the handsome Dungannon native. Clarke cracked a joke about being compared to Matthew Kelly, while the MC, a curly-haired chap, felt he was more akin to Earnest Hemingway.
From where Vinny was sulking, Clarke could have walked off the set of Ocean’s Twelve as George Clooney.
To push his new fitness regime, Clarke admitted to being “more than 18 stone” at his peak. It was a number Vinny recognised from his last glance at the weighing scales, and was followed by a couple more
“‘I went from a 42 to a 32,” beamed Clarke. “So did I the other day,” Vinny sniggered to Angie, “from a Portmarnock shift to a Malahide one.”
At that, Vinny sat bolt upright. Had he heard correctly? The guy pushing the fitness regime was the offspring of the finest racehorse trainer of all time?
And that MV O’Brien’s wife, an elegant Australian lady as Vinny recalled, was in the room giving her imprimatur to the event, captured Vinny’s imagination.
Vinny hauled himself upright and instinctively straightened the tie Angie had made him wear. He began to tune in, listening with greater attention as the benefits of the programme were rolled out.
He heard words like ‘focus’, and ‘nourish’, which he understood, and ‘synergistic’, which he didn’t.
But when it was over, and all the ladies, and men too, fawned and fussed over Clarke, who seemed to be enjoying himself, Vinny had a Pauline moment.
He imagined a world, his world, where he was no longer Mr Blobby but a mean, and relatively lean, machine of svelte middle-aged manhood.
He might not have the craggy looks of Clarke but he’d be a damn sight better without his jowls wobbling about, never mind the hairy coils peeping out of his nose and ears.
“Imagine it. Me with a 32 waist driving a 32 bus,” he thought to himself. No one would laugh at him, pick on him, and bully him like the way Tabitha Tregoning had.
The witch was installed in Vinny’s old family home and was withholding rent until such a time as there was a modern tumble drier installed in the house.
Vinny damned the day he ever set eyes on Ms Tregoning and knew what’d he like to do with her, and her bloody tumble drier.
But what if Vinny knocked on the door of Causeway Avenue lighter around the waist but firmer of conviction? How would the Welsh vixen regard him then?
With a lot more trepidation than she currently did, he’d wager.
Losing weight wasn’t going to be easy, not when it meant cutting down on Uncle Arthur and munching on vegetables.
Vinny looked at his watch; the date was November 7th. In seven weeks it would be St Stephen’s Day, the date of his traditional outing to the Leopardstown races.
Privately, he set himself a target weight, aware of the challenge it presented.
It was a long shot, but long shots have come in before, especially when prepared properly.
No one knew that better than the late, great, MV O’Brien. The chase was afoot.