The Nature v Nurture debate - as old as the hills and as well-rehearsed as a Thrupiece Philharmonic Orchestra concert [unfortunate choice of simile - did you hear the last shambles? [Ed]] - looks like getting a further shot in the arm thanks to the discovery of a portrait of Maisy d'Oats* - the great-grandmother of one-time Dorset thrupiecediet Champion Slimmer of the year and fitness the threadboneway(TM) permanent ambassador, Mrs Brenda Oats.
*Maisy d'Oats née Maisy Po'Ridge [1885-1935] married Quaker William ["Dozy"] d'Oats [1868-1926] in 1896. By the age of 30 she had already been a 3 times regional and twice countywide finalist in the Dorset "All You Can Eat" Open Competitions. In 1919 she was crowned Ms Game Pie despite the fact that she was married, had had three children and was still only 19 stones. At her funeral in 1935, her hearse was pulled by six Suffolk Punches and four Percherons. She is buried across two parishes.
Great-granddaughter Brenda, who has achieved near celebrity status since bursting on the scene in 2012, has devised and franchised her own exercise clubs as well as writing a best selling autobiography. As every reader of her harrowing tale knows, she has famously endured a life-long battle with weight - a contest she has occasionally won and just as often lost - and always in the harsh glare of the Dorset media spotlight.
Mrs Oats has recently been self-isolating with husband Ray and was last heard of when she contributed to Episode #12 of My Favourite Fireplaces - an occasional series in which well-known celebrities nominate and comment on their favourite fireplace [HERE]. She has admitted that CONTRIK-69 protocols have "significantly disrupted" her normally well-disciplined eating habits and friends say that, in consequence, she has "put on quite a bit of timber". Husband Ray - who once described the post-weight-loss Brenda as "a completely different woman" to the Brenda he married - is said to be fearful of a "return of the fattie" and worried about the steep escalation in food bills.
So if Mrs Oats is now struggling to save her show-biz figure [along, apparently, with her marriage], is she to be blamed or pitied? And is her battle bound to end in tears, not because of any lack of discipline or will power, but because in the end genetics will out and those cursed with what scientists are now calling "the greedy gene" just can't help themselves?
Anyone inclined to the genetic theory is likely to find support in the evidence that Mrs Oats's family has always been "a little on the large side"; a statement for which there might have been scant historic evidence but for the recent portrait discovery. "Mrs d'Oats at Table" by early 20th century artist Vincent van Trough depicts, says Sotherbone's early 20th century art expert Finn de Sea-Eccles "a clearly delighted Mrs d'Oats' forking it down like a trencherman". "The look both of anticipation and satisfaction bordering on satiation is supremely well-caught", he adds "whilst the evidence of a discarded napkin suggests that she has been at it for some time and could still be at it for a while yet".
Informed of the discovery, a dejected Ray Oats drew little comfort from the fact that his wife might be predisposed to obesity. "I suppose it's good to know these things", he said, "but it doesn't pay the bills and it certainly doesn't un-wedge her from the doorframe after that fourth takeaway".