I’ve just bought a step-counter – a Fitbit (other brands are available). You clip it on your person and somehow it knows how many flights of stairs you’ve climbed, how many hundreds of kilometres you’ve walked and all the calories you’ve burnt up. It even knows when you’re asleep, although it doesn’t seem to be programmed to tell you a bedtime story. At the end of the day it emails encouraging messages to keep you hooked up. It also (probably) notifies GCHQ of your exact whereabouts and what you ate for lunch, and counts every illegal chip swallowed.

The reason? Once more I’m facing the fact that I’m not a bit fit. Never have been, since at school I was generally picked last for the hockey team. The only thing I really enjoy is swimming, perhaps because you can troll up and down the pool with your lycra-clad body hidden underwater. I’m a strong swimmer and at school I also excelled at the ‘open plunge’ – I could dive into the pool and shoot through to the other end without surfacing for breath, courtesy of my generous body weight. Neither a very glamorous nor an Olympic event, sadly.

The real reason to get fit/lose weight?  An invitation from the Palace, for Him Outdoors to receive a medal for his services to the Queendom – his name popped up in the New Years Honours. It’s a matter of great pride to the family, of course it is. It’s also a matter of pride that Mum doesn’t look an absolute fright on The Day, bingo wings wobbling as she fumbles in her bag for tissues, since HO won’t be allowed his Man-Bag (see A Handbag?). And there will be photos to worry about.

We’ve been once before to the Palace because HO is a clever (and caring) guy, although I like to think I’ve helped him a little on the way. We joined 3,000+ others at a Garden Party, ate posh cucumber sandwiches, and listened to two different military bands. Afterwards we wandered round the rose beds and I took my shoes off to walk on the grass – as did many of the other ladies with complaining feet. We also peeped into the Royal Summerhouse and saw the water-bowls for the Royal Corgis. That was about as close as we got to Royalty, given that the prime viewing spots were allocated to higher beings. Photography was discouraged but we did manage to get one fuzzy phone pic. HO looked suave in morning dress. I wore a white dress with big black splodges and looked like a cross between Mrs Blobby and Cruella de Ville, with the addition of a flying saucer hat. So – this time is going to be different. HO will again be suave in his hired tail-coat and striped trousers, and I am going to look fabulous.

Fitbit clipped into my pocket for the first time, we go shopping, trotting round every major store in town. HO avails himself of the men’s crèche/armchairs each time I disappear into the fitting rooms with armfuls of undersized dresses. Depressing, but I am buoyed up by the thought of my little fit friend busy clocking up steps and stairs. After many sweaty tryings-on and managing to lose my vest somewhere, I find a dress which actually fits and suits me, and then a matching jacket – at sale price – even better. A hat follows – another flying saucer but nicer. Shoes – difficult as usual. I give up and we set off for a late lunch. I check my pocket – to find no little fit friend. We race back to the last changing room, which was in the furthest-flung shop. No joy – although I do find my vest crumpled under a stool in the cubicle. Over our even later lunch – salad for me and jacket potato for HO – I call the shoe-shop. The assistant sounds doubtful, then smiles down the phone – she can see the little black capsule under a chair. We trek back to the other end of town to collect it.

Back on the train home I’m exhausted, fit to drop in fact, but relieved. I have a lovely new outfit and feel encouraged to shed a few pounds before we get to the Palace without having to shed a lot of Pounds for a new step-counter. I’m particularly pleased that I won’t be getting emails to congratulate me on the stepping achievements of someone who has pocketed my Fitbit.

My little friend is now safely clipped onto my bra, but I can’t help feeling disappointed that it didn’t count all those steps and stairs covered in our search. Modern technology still has a way to go it seems.