I will hold my hands up and admit to the crime of putting on weight. A couple of years ago I lost around six stone, but thanks to some rather unfortunate health issues three of those stone have returned.
I plead guilty to the crime of getting fat but, as I mentioned, I do have my reasons for having fallen off the wagon of slenderness, just not ones that I wish to share with a stranger in Tesco or my mother-in-law's cleaner.
So when I was asked by both these impudent specimens in the space of one month if I had a bun in the oven, I decided I might just have to start a campaign to enshrine in law that you should NEVER ask a woman is she is pregnant. While I was tough enough to reply, 'No, just fat', I really do think that everyone should employ the simple rule of thumb that if you have to ask – DON'T.
You see while I am the first to admit that I am overweight, that my belly is more jelly than washboard, I do not have a defined bump that could be nothing other than a foetus growing within me.
In fact, apart from a few extra stone hanging around my waistline there is NOTHING to suggest I am pregnant. Even worse, when one of those nosy parkers asked me about the state of my womb, I was in the process of purchasing a jumbo box of Tampax.
It's really very simple. If you suspect a woman is with child and itching to share the trials and tribulations of pregnancy with you, hold your tongue and let her introduce the topic. Equally if she is sporting a Baby on Board badge on public transport, feel free to offer her a seat or help her carry heavy bags up the steps of the tube. However, if she is wearing no such badge – keep your seats ladies and gentlemen, it's safer for everyone.
I remember a time before my previous weight loss when I was tipsily travelling home on the tube after a rather drunken evening out to celebrate my wedding anniversary. I soon sobered up though, when a kind gentleman chivalrously offered me his seat. He looked a bit taken aback when I hissed that I was fine.
Don't assume every woman carrying a few extra stone is about to drop a sprog. That's just plain insulting.
Another friend had her bubble burst by an insolent soul recently. She has worked incredibly hard to lose over four stone, but there are still a few to go, so imagine how she felt when one of the teachers at her child's school inquired when she was due?
The thing is that everyone wants to share in the joy of burgeoning baby, but honestly leave it to the mum-to-be to broach the subject. I can't understand why anyone would think it was acceptable to enquire of a plump lady if she expecting. This only results in an unacceptably high risk of humiliation to both parties. If she's pregnant and wants to chat to a complete stranger about it, great, if not then keep your trap shut.
To ensure that no such misunderstandings occur on future outings I have come up with an ingenious alternative to the Baby on Board slogan. I have ordered myself a T-shirt (in size XL of course) emblazoned with the information 'No I am not pregnant, I am just fat!'.
I am hoping this will keep the boorish curiously of all and sundry at bay as I dare to go about my daily business carrying around a few extra stone.
Whereas this women really is pregnant...