Dear Nigel Lawson

The former Chancellor is a man transformed. So much so that his friends might walk past him in the street

Anybody who has managed to control their eating, drinking or smoking deserves unqualified praise: and you have evidently managed two out of those three. It is an achievement that takes self-discipline and stamina. Anyone can reduce their eating by going on a diet for a week, and most of us do so - several times a year, starting on Mondays. However, to cut down on food, as you have managed to do, for almost a whole year - from last August until this July - indicates a tenacity of will-power that is truly awesome. I take my hat off to you.

Those are the compliments; now for the questions: why did you do it, and do you look any better as a result?

The question why will doubtless prompt a good deal of prurient speculation. Let us assume the obvious first: your doctor said you were in line for a premature heart attack if you didn't do something about what he frankly described as your dangerous obesity. That would shock many people into losing four stone, and it might have worked for you.

The second possible reason is that you, your wife, and your family finally decided that cuddliness had tipped over into grossness, that you looked revolting in anything but a well-cut Savile Row dinner jacket, and nowadays were straining at the seams even of that. The time had come to face the mirror and face facts. Time to diet.

My mother always says the simplest and most successful diet can be set out in two words: eat half. Forget calorie-counting, kilo-joules (is that what they're called?), diet sheets, F-plan and grapefruit. Save the cost of health farms and simply use your common-sense. Eat and drink whatever you normally would, but half as much. Works like a charm. I bet that's what you did, too. I hope you'll resist the temptation to publish the Lawson Plan diet. Some of your other programmes for the nation's health were not well received.

Now we come to the tricky question: do you actually look any better? Well, you certainly look different, and no doubt you feel better. You have gained the sort of ageing male glamour sported by Peter O'Toole and Lords Snowdon and Lichfield, rapidly overtaking Lord Archer and best exemplified by the extraordinary features of the late WH Auden. It is the look of a well-spent youth repented; of misdemeanours once enjoyed but now renounced; and it betrays the pleasures of the flesh formerly indulged. In the late middle-aged male face, this look takes the form of craggy lines, veritable canyons that hang and droop and sag in folds, yet still reveal the all- too-evident skull beneath the skin. It is the look of imminent mortality.

Women pay fortunes to cosmetic surgeons to avoid both this and its opposite, a plump face cushioned in pouched cheeks and reposing upon several comfortable chins ... come to think of it, rather like the previous Lawson face.

Was it worth those months of denial, those cakes and puddings you rejected, the whiskies you refused? In terms of health, certainly; in terms of physical attraction ... do you know, Lord Lawson, I'm not entirely sure that it was.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
TVSPOILER ALERT: It's all coming together as series returns to form
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine