Sunday, 8 April 2018


I was at a black tie dinner last night. 

My DJ fitted - with room to spare.  It wasn't even snug, it was positively roomy.

I've never had that experience before...

Sunday, 4 March 2018


It was the accumulation of lots of little hints that told me I had to try this 5:2 thing and lose some weight.  And it's the little things that are telling me that something fundamental is changing as a result.

OK, the fact that the number on the scales is dropping steadily week by week is fairly significant, but (racing aside) that wasn't the prime reason - my long-term health was.  And so the stuff like not being puffed out all the time, having to run for a flight and it being easier than I expected, noticing that my calves have some definition again, they all mean more than does an abstract number. 

But there's definitely something changing at a deeper level.  We went out for a Sunday lunch as a family today - to Prezzo.  Now, I like Italian food.  Spaghetti with meatballs jumped out at me from the menu.  And today is a non-fast day, so I can have what I want.  So I did.

I really liked it.  But I couldn't finish it.  That's the first time I can recall that happening in, oh, about 47 years...

Monday, 19 February 2018

Progress update...

Well, I'm now 16 weeks into this.  I've gone off boiled eggs for breakfast and now have a small scattering of granola, plus an apple for lunch and a much-reduced portion of whatever everyone else is having for dinner. 

It was useful to calorie count at the start, but after a few weeks that became both tedious and unnecessary - having got a rough idea of the portion size needed, I can now serve out a "fasting" portion accurately enough. That means I'm not limited to things out of a packet which has a nutritional statement on the side, which is both useful and healthier. 

That's not the big news though.  The headlines are:

 - I'm 8kg down on where I started.  This includes Christmas, when I jumped about 2-3kg! In terms of my long-term aim, that's about 1/3 of the way.  I've been waiting for the easy wins to fizzle out and for progress to slow down, but that hasn't happened (yet) and it's a fairly steady 1/2kg per week, plus or minus. 

 - I'm wearing trousers that are a size smaller than I'm used to.  The ones I'm wearing today were an accidental purchase a few years ago that had to be put at the back of the wardrobe as they were so uncomfortable that they were unwearable.  I've now had to order a selection of new trousers, as my old size is itself uncomfortable due to all the material gathering up under the belt. 

 - Talking of my belt, I may have to add a new hole.  At the right end, too. 

 - This morning I had to catch a flight and was running late.  Running was actually easy; I'd forgotten that could be the case.

 - It's so easy to stick to that I've moved to 4:3 instead of 5:2, i.e. fasting Monday, Wednesday and Friday.   That still leaves me with the weekend free, and it means that if my fast day doesn't fit around my work diary then I'm still at 5:2 even if I miss one.  This is closer to the alternate-day fasting that Dr Mosley also described but with a weekend and a steady weekly routine instead. 

This really works.  I'm properly chuffed. 

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Second fast day nearly done...

Another fast day done!  Same menu of two boiled eggs for breakfast and an apple for lunch.  Supper this time was a tuna & tomato sandwich, chosen because it's a particular favourite that also ticked the right boxes. 

I can tell that I'm hungry, but it's nothing like as distracting as I thought it would be.  Just tapping out this blog is enough to take my mind off it - a day at work is more than enough.  Netflix in the evenings helps, too. I slept well on Monday, so no worries on that score. 

And the big question?  Well, no scores yet for today but Monday's fast took 1kg off - and it stayed off through Tuesday to this morning.  That's probably the low-hanging fruit (as it were), so I don't expect a linear progression at that rate*, but it's really encouraging. 

*partly because if it does, there'll be nothing left of me by the start of March.

Monday, 6 November 2017

First fast day


Oh lordy, am I posting pictures of food now? At least this isn't Instagram, I suppose...
Also had a glass of water, and a coffee when I arrived at work.  Feeling distinctly OK at the moment; my stomach did query whether that was indeed everything after I finished eating, but there are things here to distract me.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

A new direction

Politics is boring these days.  So I'm not going to blog about it any more.  Instead of saving the country, I'm going to save my life instead. 

Basically, I'm 47 and despite years of denial, it is becoming very clear that I can't keep on eating like I did when I was a teenager.  I'm impressed by just how long I've been able to look in the mirror and think things are just fine, but some cartoons are too close to the mark...

(They could at least have left the bald spot out!)

I did have a reasonable amount of success a year or so ago with a diet recommended to me by a good friend.  It wasn't a fad diet or one that needs endless abstinence, just a simple shift of intake away from carbohydrates and towards protein instead.  That appealed, because I am notoriously unable to resist temptation, so substitution worked far better than self-denial.  I lost a fair amount that way - of the order of 9-10kg, and felt rather better for it.  But it bottomed out there at a weight of about 100kg, and I found it hard to get any further.  I remember being 85kg as a youngster, in full RAF fast jet flying kit... so to get back to the low 90s would be nice.  But although I haven't weighed myself for some time, I rather suspect that it has all come back.

Recently, I've come to the view I have to do something.  I've been feeling tired and sluggish, and my trousers are definitely a bit tighter around the waist than is comfortable.  Then I found myself walking back to the office at lunchtime and trying to talk on the phone at the same time, and realised I was getting breathless.  That won't do.  The last straw was seeing a candid photo of me from the side, in a Silverstone garage in my race suit; now, my race suit is fairly flattering from the front, but it isn't from the side.  It really isn't...

These are the early warning signs.  I don't want them to get any louder.

Then there is the racing, of course.  We fanatically try to get the weight off our cars, but I'm carrying somewhere up to 20kg that I don't need. And, coincidentally, my car and I (together) are about 20kg over the minimum weight limit for my racing series.  So if I could lose all that, it would translate directly into faster laptimes. 

A random Twitter link last week pointed me at Dr Michael Mosley, the founder of the 5:2 diet.  I'd seen that referenced a few other times, so knew it was a thing.  So I had a look over his website, and liked what I saw.  The idea of his diet is that you (almost) fast for two days a week, which triggers metabolic changes that help in various ways (as well as reducing your overall food intake).  So I bought his book, and his experiences before starting his regime chimed with mine.  

So, from now on, Mondays and Wednesday are my fast days.  I'll be aiming to get to around 600 calories on those days - a quarter the "ideal" male level.  Tomorrow's menu is:

Breakfast - two boiled eggs
Lunch - an apple, if I feel I need it
Supper - tuna, tomatoes, wholemeal bread

I'll be weighing in tonight before I go to sleep.  I hope to be brave enough to post the figure up here. 

If you've read this far, then please stick around, please comment, please keep me honest.  You never, know, you might save a life ;-)

Monday, 25 April 2016

The supposed benefits of the EU - part 2

Some time ago I posted on the effect that EU membership has had on intellectual property, my specialist field.  That post focussed on effect the EU's interventions had had on costs and timescales.  I promised a second post, looking at the detail.  Here it is...

First, let's rewind the clock and look at the original British system of registering trade marks, as set out in the Trade Marks Act 1938 and as in the early days of the Trade Marks Act 1994.  When you filed an application to register a new trade mark, the Registry looks through its records of earlier pending and registered marks.  If it finds any that are similar, it cites them against you as an objection.  Your application cannot proceed while that objection is there.  You must then either convince the Registry that there is no actual conflict in practice, or approach the earlier proprietor to seek their consent, or apply to revoke the earlier registration, or some combination of these.  Only when the Registry was happy that your proposed trade mark registration did not conflict with anyone else's would your application proceed.

Incidentally, a request for consent was always accompanied by an offer to pay the associated professional fees in advising the earlier proprietor (even if they subsequently refused consent). 

After the application was accepted by the Registry, it was published to let third parties "oppose" the application if they thought it whouldn't have been allowed.  As the Registry had already examined the application, this opposition process was only needed where the Registry had made a mistake or where the opponent had been using their mark but had never bothered to register it.

This system worked well from 1875 until 1996 (although I can only personally vouch for it after 1991…).  It is still the approach that is current in the US, Japanese, Chinese, Canadian, Brazilian, Australian, New Zealand, Indian and other Trade Marks Registries.  In other words, it is the accepted system among the non-EU developed economies of the world.

1996 brought us the EU Trade Marks Registry, which was originally going to work to the French/Italian model of allowing anyone to register anything and leaving it to the Courts to sort everything out afterwards.  We and the Germans resisted this and insisted on an opposition process and an examination for earlier marks; we succeeded in getting an opposition process but the examination as to earlier marks was limited to merely doing a search, telling the applicant what they had found, and telling the owners of the earlier marks that their mark had been cited.  The theory was that when shown an earlier registration of a similar mark, the later applicant would realise that proceeding with the application was pointless and would withdraw it.  In practice, most applicationts carry on anyway.  Faced with a steady stream of EU registrations that were effective in the UK and had not been examined for prior rights, the UK Registry eventually gave up examining and has now adopted the same process as the EU office. 

The EU IPO is currently trying to drop even this step of the process as (in its view) it just gets in the way of registering things quickly.

For the owner of the earlier mark, receiving one of these 'notice letters' is a warning that someone may be trying to adopt the same trade mark as they already own.  They need to look up the details of the later application, come to a view as to whether that is a problem, and (if so) contact the application to persuade them to withdraw.  If they do not withdraw, then an opposition will be needed.  The result has been an approximately tenfold increase in the rate at which applications are opposed, and (for some owners) a need to send a steady stream of opposition threats. Previously, this work was done for them, funded by the application fees charged to new applicants.

This was a deliberate decision at the political level to shift the burden of keeping the register 'clean' off the IP offices and new applicants, and onto the proprietors of the earlier marks.  The intention was that faster and cheaper application processes via a single EU Registry would outweigh the additional cost of forever having to defend the registration.  I would characterise the results against that criterion as “mixed” at best, and the level of understanding of IP application processes among the politicians who made this decision as “non-existent”.

This decision by the EU has had two effects, both of which were entirely predictable.  First, the owners of registered marks have to keep on defending them, incurring costs in the process.  They see the EU IPO taking hefty application fees off new applicants and running large surpluses, and frankly they (and I) do not understand why the EU IPO cannot therefore examine new applications properly instead of just passing the problem on to others.  Second, happy clients who have just been granted a registration ask whether that means they are the owners of the trade mark, free to use it in the EU?  I have to tell them that no, they are not - there could easily be a prior national right which both invalidates their EU registration and also means they cannot use the mark in that state.

The EU's involvement in the trade mark registration process has therefore been to devalue a registration and to place a new burden on trade mark owners, while raking in the cash (see my previous post).  They could have helped businesses, for example by creating a central registry holding searchable details of all the marks in all the EU countries, allowing us to clear new trade marks easily, cheaply and quickly; that would have been a genuinely valuable resource (but would not have been as profitable for the EU).  But instead, they just created another level of complexity for the system. 

And I haven't even got onto the real minutiae of class fee structures and specification drafting - two more areas where the EU's influence has again made life more difficult for businesses.

Suffice to say that I shall be disagreeing with the assumption by my professional institutes that we should vote to stay in.