Thank god it’s February. In January, with the fug of regret and guilt and failed personal betterment following everyone about like that terrifying child in The Grudge, it’s impossible to admit that you have about as much self control as a firework that’s been let off in a small room. But February is different. February should be renamed “Oh, Fuck It”. People do the right thing in February and stop competing to see who can inflict the most miserable time on themselves by “exercising” or “eating fruit” or any other such terrible unenjoyable thing. Now, in this hallowed 2nd month of the year, we can all admit that it’s cold and rubbish and life is joyless enough as it is without using olive oil spread rather than spooning butter directly out of the tub and into your mouth.
With this in mind I’m going to tell you about the terrifying few hours I thought I could improve myself in some small way. Christmas 2014 had crashed in like Henry the Eighth at his absolute fattest, pelting roasted turkeys everywhere and booming “EAT IT!!!” before becoming distracted and murdering one of his wives. So I did as Henry the Eighth wanted and ate many turkeys and geese and occasionally sausages until I thought, really, this has to stop. I must stop placing my head inside whole birds and eating my way out of them. I must become icy and controlled, and show some restraint. I thought for a little while about checking into a convent for a few weeks, being like “hey nuns, I feel a bit fat and greasy so I thought I could hang out with you guys? And Jesus, of course” but it turns out that you can’t become a Temporary Nun. So I decided to do something that seemed ALMOST as good. I decided to do the Lemon Detox Diet.
Now, everything about the Lemon Detox Diet I could find on the internet had definitely been written by people who have some interest in selling the Lemon Detox Diet. I picked up on this because not one person said “this is fucking horrible and really hard” and most seemed convinced that it SIMPLY WOULD NOT WORK unless you bought this very special brand of suspiciously expensive tree sap. But, Beyonce and Naomi Campbell do it, and apparently it clears up your skin and turns your gut into a smoothly efficient army-like uber-thing and also fasting is just good for you sometimes. And all this sounded alluring! By the time I’d finished I’d be so pure, slim and beautiful that I’d basically be a magical she-elf that glows gently through life as a center of calm and subtle “I haven’t eaten in four days” sexiness.
Now, how you do the Lemon Detox Diet (without the branded tree sap) is mix 2 litres of water, lots of freshly squeezed lemon juice, cayenne pepper and maple syrup. I used much less maple syrup than the recipe advised because it’s essentially liquid gold and I’m not made of money. This mixture is about as disgusting as it sounds. If you are ever misguided enough to try this, I recommend making it as cold as possible because lukewarm it’s unnervingly like the urine of a poorly hyena. Anyway, to follow the diet all you have to do is simply stop eating for 3 to 5 days and replace all your meals with this potion. Or as I like to call it, Sadness Juice.
I was pretty optimistic for the first 8 minutes, but then it all went drastically downhill. Around an hour after commencing on my journey like a enthusiastic gentleman explorer I remembered with alarm that I am rather fond of food. 4 hours in, I was literally reading restaurant menus with tears in my eyes. There were crumbs left on the baking tray from fish fingers and I ate them. I licked a spoon that had some tartar sauce on it. Roaming around the house, with the constantly distracted look of someone swimming in fleas, I could not concentrate on anything except for torrid fantasies about cheese on toast. I would eat that cheese so bad. Being, as it was, after Christmas, the fridge was still full of delicious nibble-bits that wiggled in front of me every time I opened the door to stare, saucer-eyed and yearning.
I was whole a half a day into my experiment and despite frequents checks, my skin had yet to become any clearer or glowing. In fact, the only physical effect I could put my finger on was the enormous headache that other Lemon Detoxers put down to caffeine withdrawal. I drink neither tea or coffee so had to conclude that it may be because eating nothing is actually REALLY QUITE BAD FOR YOU, something that had been concluded by other humans some centuries ago. At 11 pm that evening, 15 hours after I first set out on the quest to show some grit and determination, I ate a big sandwich and it was bloody lovely.
I did feel bad about this for some time. Then I remembered, I’m a writer, illustrator and sometimes an admin assistant! Overindulgence is a completely valid lifestyle choice. Nay! It’s a RIGHT and a DUTY. It’s probably the fact that I blindly follow my whims without any thought to my general well being that got me to enter the creative industries in the first place. Like Ernest Hemingway! And if there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that I’m just as good as Ernest Hemingway. I imagine creativity is very much like that tummy monster in the Roald Dahl poem, demanding and a bit angry. You can’t distract it by focusing on other stuff, like your heart health. At the end of the day creativity is hungry, and you should feed it.