I am a big fan of the word “paunch”.
Gentler than gut, less jolly than belly, it captures something otherwise undefinable about the increased roundness of a stomach as it ages. There is something in it that suggests concealment or an attempt to hide away that extra beer or slice of cheesecake - perhaps this is because of how closely it resembles the word pouch. Like a child might stow away a stolen biscuit or packet of sweets, the paunch is smoothed down and pushed to either side so the bump is barely visible. But it remains, its owner is aware - whether or not others are.
I associate it mainly with a proclivity for drinking - but it might also be linked to a sweet tooth, a fondness for gelatinous hams, an intensely extreme affection for Turkish delight. A paunch is a noble thing - a willingness to indulge oneself to the minimum allowable extreme. An extra morsel, so divine - some sweet signal of all those glimmering and tantalising treats that life can offer.
So, on a Friday - here’s to paunches and their cultivation.