by Prue Leith
The other day I staggered into the green room of the Great British Menu studio to find Gok asleep on my couch. I say my couch because it’s usually mine, Mathew Fort having gone off for a zizz in his dressing room and Oliver Peyton running his business from his i-phone in the corridor. Gok is a lovely fellow, just as he is on the box, and very very nice to old ladies like me. But you can’t help thinking that he’s probably thinking, God, I’m glad I don’t have to see her naked. (Just to explain to the truly out of touch — like me until a few weeks ago — Gok is the telly fashion guru who instructs you to love the skin you’re in, and persuades all ages, shapes and sizes of ordinary mortal to strip off for the catwalk in front of hundreds of live folks and millions of T.V. viewers of ‘How to Look Good Naked’
He’s off his rocker of course. Love your body? Show me the woman over forty, or even under forty, who does. The only woman I know who truly believes she is gorgeous is seriously obese and was pretty damn miserable until she went through a programme that made her realise she IS gorgeous. Fat and gorgeous. We all need that program.
But the rest of us know we are too tall, too short, too fat, too thin, too wrinkly, too something or other. I thought by the time I hit fifty I would not care about such things. Wrong. Ditto at sixty. Ditto at seventy. I bet it will be the same at eighty, Ninety? O God.
So, alright, it’s a life sentence. But the thing that really bugs me is that I used to be gorgeous but didn’t know it and I got not an ounce of joy from it. OK, maybe I wasn’t gorgeous, but good enough to make a few bucks by modelling hairstyles, underwear and bikinis. Admittedly the swimwear was “for the fuller figure” but I was only a size twelve then, and the reason my underwear career was short-lived was my mother found out.
All this keening for lost youth is brought on by trawling through my life for my memoir. (Quick plug – it’s called Relish and will be out February 28th (but you can download it on Amazon). The trawling included boxes of old photos and that’s what got me thinking about how stupid young women are not to glory in their youth and good looks while they can. I found a picture of me looking glamorous, age 29, (and yes, I know, ridiculous too) and Quercus, my publishers decided to use it for the front cover. But when my current friends and colleagues saw it they were horrified. “It’s hopeless. You are unrecognisable. The readers who will buy your memoir are people who recognise you from the telly or from newspaper pics of today. They’d walk right past this glamour-puss with dangly earrings, false eyelashes and come-hither look.
So Quercus changed their minds. And had a posh photographer, hair dresser, wardrobe mistress and make-up artist all do their very best with today’s edition.
So here is the serious note: If you are young you are probably beautiful — youth just IS beautiful, at any size and shape. So enjoy it. And if you aren’t young, be comforted: you are about to get older and less beautiful, so make hay…
Gok, I think I am beginning to get the point.