Fay Weldon - The Fat Woman's Joke

The Fat Woman’s Joke

She ate frozen chips and peas and hamburgers, and sliced bread with bought jam and fishpaste, and baked beans and instant puddings, and tinned porridge and tinned suet pudding, and cakes and biscuits from packets. She drank sweet coffee, sweet tea, sweet cocoa and sweet sherry.

What is the joke? What’s she laughing at? What in the world can she find to laugh about, fat fierce old Esther? Her husband’s mistress going off with her son? Funny? Going on a diet and ending up with less waist and less husband than when she started? Funny?

It had, in fact, been Esther’s husband’s idea to go on a diet – they’d do it together. But sometime into their enforced starvation, Esther had a revelation. Suddenly she saw her life for what it was and found it all remarkably pointless. And so Esther left home, moved to a flat of her own, and began eating…