Something happened today which brought things sharply into focus, three people made me feel like a complete dick in the space of 5 minutes. The worst part is they were just being friendly.

I’m in Madrid today for a quick client meeting, which wrapped up around 2:30pm local time, generally i’d slope off back to the airport to catch up on emails and work, but today the client pointed me to a nice little restaurant just around the corner from his office and I thought it might be nice to experience a proper summer for an hour or so, sat in the sun with a nice lunch. I also planned to have something healthy rather than the airline lounge offerings.

I sat down and took a look at the menu, which naturally was in Spanish, a language I know little of, save for the words ‘jambon’ and ‘queso’. It also happened that this dish had the phrase ‘bajo en calorias’ next to it. Rocket scientist i’m not, but I can crack that code any day of the week ‘low in calories’. Perfect.

I ordered the dish and it became very clear that between the waitress and I, we couldn’t understand each other, she asked questions and I shrugged politely and reiterated my order and we smiled and she left.

She went away having written down the correct item, when a few minutes later another waitress came up to me and started pointing at the other dishes, still not sure of what was being said I made it clear that I was very happy with my choices, and thanked her for a service she’d clearly tried to deliver.

Then a gentleman approached me, I recognised him as a guest from another table. The waitresses had canvassed the whole restaurant looking for an English speaker, they wanted to make sure I knew that I had selected the low calorie option, and wouldn’t I like a nice steak or fish instead? I have never felt so ridiculous.

I thanked him, politely for I am British, and reassured him that I was fine, thank you. Then I opened my magazine and did my best to ignore everyone, left as quickly as possible after my (perfect as it happens) meal and got to the airport as quickly as possible. Where I now sit typing this, having just eaten a bowl of pasta I didn’t need, and wondering where the positivity of the day went.

I had a sensible breakfast at Heathrow this morning, declined the on-board food and was feeling pretty in control, an embarassment like this then causes me to dive into the arms of the very source of the problem in the first place, food.

Tomorrow I hit the bike, hard and start again.

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