38: On Sabbatical, Part II – Fat Boy

4 December 2011

Forty-eight hours after the book launch, I found myself at a fetish party. It was pandemonium: populated by glamorous ladies wearing tight black latex; a couple dressed as vampires (inc. fangs); and a fellow with impressive upper body development, who’d spent 13 years as a stripper, and who explained to me in excruciating detail how cock rings work (!).

Unfortunately, when off the leash, I get very naughty very quickly. The experience kicked-off a short period of post-book decadence.

The rub is that:

  • decadence = alcohol
  • alcohol = calories
  • calories = fat bastard.

Things rapidly snowballed: lunches in the sun, dinner parties, red wine, After Eights, Turkish delight, Moscow mules, rhubarb crumble, pork belly, larger beers, huge racks of barbequed ribs, colossal joints of beef, wrapped in bacon and soaked in fat …

As August grew to a close, the Jolly Pilgrim was packing on the pounds. By mid September, I was as rotund as a big fatty bonbon.

Meanwhile, when The Telegraph extract went live, I got my first dose of internet abuse when some bloke accused me of claiming the EU stopped World War II. A week later, on The Ecologist website, a fellow called Anarcho Ted said he was “sickened by me” and told me to “get out of [my] male reductionist science box”. Nevertheless, ‘Gaia Theory’ (thus far the only major extract we’ve released) was reposted by the Post Carbon Institute, the Gaian Foundation, the Environmental News Network, three newspapers and some eco warriors in the USA. I was happy.

Around me, initial reactions were wildly mixed. ‘Did you really have to do all that drinking and leaping into bed with everyone?’ said my godmother, Janet (me: jaw on the floor). ‘Your all-in-one ending certainly constitutes metaphysics,’ opined Dr Nick Jones, philosophy lecturer at Leeds University (I scribbled that one down, sharpish). ‘I skipped all the philosophy and just read your travel story,’ (me: clutch throat in horror and disbelief). Then there was my favourite scientific pagan, Ash, who nailed it, ‘This big-picture pantheism that is so clearly core to who you are …’

My cousin Donna (glittering career in third-world development and peace-building) reacted by challenging me to get middle-class English people to grasp the difference in magnitude of social issues between third- and first-world societies. I struggle to get 20somethings to understand how much better the teenies are than the 70s. As Jesus said in South Park: I ain’t touching that one with a barge pole.

Tony the Tiger update: after the skin-crawling debacle of Peacefest 2010, Tony was top billing for the 2011 event. The management insisted he open the festival, before his depraved, lead-from-the-front instincts took hold, and all hell broke loose. As he took the stage, clutching his brand new black Fender, a shiver ran down my spine. Would the months of intensive practise pay off? Would Tony drench himself in glory, or was I about to witness another catastrophic episode of crashing and burning; all artistic integrity buried beneath an avalanche of public embarrassment and humiliation?

In the end, he nailed it.


Tony’s Peacefest tribute to Jimi Hendrix (SORRY FOR THE EMBARRASING VOICEOVER)

Me performing ‘You Really Got Me’ by The Kinks:

Two clicks to harmony and enlightenment


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