I need some ugly friends.

I am at my ideal weight. I don't often eat or drink to excess. I workout a lot, going so fast on the Cross Trainer my heart rate's faster than a chipmunk's on amphetamines. And yet, I can't shift this friendly layer of insulating fat. It just wont go away. I could take a blowtorch and a can of paint stripper to it and it'd still be there.  Twenty years ago I could run for a bus and loose three pounds. That's probably the only thing I miss about being in my 20s, a fast metabolism and skin with more shimmer than a chorus girl's stockings. Now my face feels like an ashtray and eyes look like crop circles.

I know I need to stop comparing myself to 20 year olds but I can't seem to avoid them. In this business you're always only a hop, skip and a shimmy away from the young and the beautiful. Stretching, kicking and smiling. It makes you sick.

They say middle age is the time in a man's life when his broad mind and narrow waist change places. I can relate. Like those people who feel richer by getting poorer friends, I really should find some ugly people to hang out with. That way I can eat what I want and still feel good about myself.

Or maybe, just maybe, feeling good about yourself should have nothing to do with what's on the outside. Aren't we supposed to love ourselves for who we are on the inside? Probably. In fact centuries of philosophy tells us so, but if I go along with that, what's stopping me making any effort at all? “Yes, I look like a pig, but who cares? On the inside I'm lovely and that's all that counts.” I don't know. It seems like a cop out to me.

Thank God getting older does have some advantages. These days I have less to prove and more time to enjoy myself. I spend more time doing things that are important to me and less doing things that are important to other people. I have some perspective and understand that what's all consuming today will be forgotten tomorrow. I suppose I'm learning that life is all about balance, in work, play, food, drink and exercise.

I'll leave you with the wise words of my friend Martha Sanders, who sums it all up perfectly: “When I was young I wanted to save the world, now I just want to get out of the room with some dignity.”