If you're Happy and you know it

If you're Happy and you know it...

Well it was my 43rd birthday on Friday - thanks for all the cards and pressies - and anyone who knows me will be well
aware that I'm very touchy about my age.

It's not so much a chip on my shoulder as a huge 5lb bag of maris pipers... but I'm pleased to say I've managed to get
over myself a little, in this respect at least, during the past few months.

And that's all thanks to Happy. A strange nickname, maybe, but it's one that kind of suits my personal trainer.
I've never, ever been able to motivate myself to go to the gym more than about twice before losing all fleeting interest in
my new fitness regime. I've spent so much cash on memberships of exclusive fitness centres, never to get anywhere near
by money's worth.

When we had a pool installed at home and a gym, I still couldn't be bothered to exercise. But back in November, after I'd
been on Channel 4's Secret Millionaire and mixed with older people in decline, I made a resolution to keep myself as fit
as I possibly could, and give myself the best chance of good health in life.

I joined a gym, hooked up with Happy, and several months later, I haven't looked back. I honestly think I've never been in
better shape. I'm 43 but I've a better body than I had when I was 23. If that's not a result, I don't know what is!

My weight's the best it's ever been, my waist is the best it's ever been and I have proper muscles for the first time ever.
A couple of years ago I was delighted with the effect that liposuction had to slim me down, but the fat just came back.

My civil partner, Michael, likes hanging out with fellow business people in his spare time, a lot of whom are older, but if
you're not careful you just end up having a lot of rich dinners, late in the evening, and talking shop.
My friends are all in their early 20s and we go out clubbing and dancing. I never used to dance but I feel like I'm reliving
my youth!

People will say: ''It's easy to keep your exercise routine going when you can afford a personal trainer,'' I know, but Happy's
more of a gym partner than an instructor.

He does the exercises alongside me and makes sure I do them properly. Now when I look around the gym I see so many
people with terrible techniques who aren't getting the proper benefit for their efforts.

It's certainly not rocket science but a sensible diet - I've cut out cakes and biscuits - and exercise are the key. People keep
saying to me: ''You look well!'' Now I'm thinking of taking up running when the weather warms up...

Since I started with Facebook, I've had this picture of a muscleman on my profile, with my head superimposed ... maybe
sometime soon I'll actually start lookiing like that!

Could staying in be the new coming out?

Reading about the latest celeb to come out as gay, a friend of mine rather bitchily remarked: ''Ooh, he should have stayed

Which made me wonder, why does anyone have to come out anymore? Why is it a big revelation? Why do we assume
that people are heterosexual unless they tell us otherwise?

I wonder if there'll ever be a time when people don't have to 'come out' as if they're giving up a long-kept secret.
But when I start pondering this sort of thing I often forget how progressive Britain is compared with, say, Iran, the homeland
of the 19-year-old gay man who's currently in the papers with his fight to stay in Britain after the homophobic murder of his
partner. Over there, coming out can be an infinitely bigger decision.