Thursday, 23 April 2009

Taking up space

I'm reluctant to do anything that would draw extra attention to the publicity seeking efforts of a certain airline, but seeing as I've started a bit of a row on Twitter, I may as well follow up here. Ryanair have suggested a 'fat tax' on obese passengers, which seems to me just a backdoor way of milking more money out of their customers whilst still advertising 'low cost' flights. However...

I have a teensy bit of sympathy on this, not on the weight issue, but on how much space someone takes up. I spent ten years commuting to London by train and the fact is, if you're small, the bigger people make a beeline for the seat next to you. And then you're stuck, either squashed right up against the window, unable to move, or precariously trying to balance on the half-an-aisle-seat you've been left. (Which was always my preferred option; better to topple unceremoniously into the aisle as the train goes over a bumpy bit than to be sandwiched between the window and someone's hot sweaty flesh for an hour). Experienced commuters soon learn 'maximising body space' tricks, like opening a newspaper or arranging your coat and baggage artfully around you. Or just glaring at people who are heading towards you.

The ones I always hated the most though, were the men who sat with their legs wide apart. A bit of unwanted physical contact with people on public transport is probably unavoidable, but there are some things you really don't want to see first thing in the morning.

15 comments:

timbone said...

I thought that Clive James made a very sensible comment about it on Loose Women. As for the 'certain airline' you mention, they are already notorious for a growing 'add-on' list to their 'low cost' flights. I wonder how they intend to set their weight meter.

It is interesting that only today I began a revised diet and exercise routine. I don't want to get to the satge of not being able to lower the food tray on a plane.

I must admit, I could not help but smile when John 'who likes his pies' Prescott appeared on Loose Women, and began to talk about the new initiative he is involved in in Hull to help people to eat well and exercise.

Kerry said...

I've just been asked how I found this photo.

I took it myself, at Victoria Falls. I did not have to Google 'baboon genitals' or any variation on that theme.

Dave H said...

"I took it myself, at Victoria Falls. I did not have to Google 'baboon genitals' or any variation on that theme."

Kerry, I'm lost for words. In their wildest dreams no Troll could surpass that.

The Grim Reaper said...

Why have you got a picture of Peter Mandelson here?

Glenn Vowles said...

Great post, had me laughing out loud and produced comments of strong agreement from my partner! One of your very best Kerry.

Dave H said...

(after having actually read the post rather than just commenting on the picture, sorry)

"The ones I always hated the most though, were the men who sat with their legs wide apart."

You may not be aware of this, but men naturally prefer sitting like that to avoid the risks associated with squashing their testicles.

You see, when pressure has been applied by sitting with the legs together, spontaneous changes in testicular configuration can come on very quickly and unexpectedly. It is almost as if a fight suddenly breaks out between them.

This easing of pressure along the fault lines is always at least a mildly uncomfortable process; rarely, however, the subsequent new configuration proves to be agonisingly painful. This can lead to various actions, of particular relevance if you happen to be sitting opposite though, is that both of the victim's legs tend to fly out convulsively.

So, Kerry, by all means choose to sit opposite the more cultivated men if you wish, but please be aware you at all times run the risk of unexpectedly being violently kicked.

Don't say you weren't warned.

Kerry said...

Is this another bid for comment of the week? I'm lost for words, I really am.

Dave H said...

It’s been bugging me for a while that women seem to think whenever men sit with their legs at about 90° they are invariably displaying like, well, an amorous baboon.

Of course, they probably are. But the very serious point I’m trying to make is that if it were socially acceptable then all men (alright, excepting Pothinus, speciality guards, those that slipped-off-the-saddle-and-landed-very-heavily-on-the-crossbar etc.) would sit like that. So I thought it worthy of a rather lengthy comment.

After all, you are surely not so anatomically and geometrically clueless that it didn’t occur to you what happens when men sit with their legs together? You are surely not so ignorant not to realise that men wouldn’t enjoy that? What, you mean you never really thought about it? Oh dear.

How are we meant to empathise with girly issues like the secret torment of dysmenorrhoea when you find the other 50%’s bits purely comic and/or offensive?

Any woman that has despaired of the vulgarity of men sitting with their legs wide apart without considering the obvious ramifications of them doing otherwise is guilty of the most crass gender ignorance. And yet I would hazard to suggest probably all women have. There is nothing less than an epidemic of female insensitivity over this important issue. Please occupy your mind with this blatantly sexist contradiction rather than any other Labour Party business. Encourage wider discussion of this issue, espcially in parliament. You would be a complete hypocrite to do otherwise.

(I may have been guilty of a slightly exaggerated generalisation over the spontaneous kicking out bit. It’s just, er, the couple of times I’ve got in a tangle that’s what I’ve done, although admittedly that was when nobody else was around to witness it, or the attendant startled yelp. And it could just be me.)

(And now that even I'm getting bored with the sight of my own words, I'm off.)

Dave H said...

Sorry! I just heard this new flu bug is most dangerous to the under 45s so I've decided to have my birthday early, next week in fact.

As you are in the same position I thought I'd pass on the tip, especially when you consider that you are a day younger than me and thus in even greater peril.

Troll is now really off.

Kerry said...

It does strike me that men are very badly designed.

Bevanite said...

Just think, if only women were allowed into parliament we would have room on the benches for so many more MPs. Yey.*
Does this mean man is literally a 'waste' of space?


*really, it'd be good.

timbone said...

I never sit with my legs akimbo, well, not in public anyway. It is not necessary. My son has said I can be quite camp, even holding my cigarette aloft with my legs crossed. I also hate the fact that it is assumed that men do not mind standing in a line using a urinal - humiliating, an invasion of my personal space. Mind you, I have seen women sitting with their legs wide apart, but that is another episode.

Kerry said...

I've always thought the urinal thing was a bit weird too, especially when you see MPs of different parties disappearing into the toilets together during a division. Just seems a bit.. intimate?

timbone said...

I have found that the few remaining old fashioned urinals are much more civilised, your own personal 'stall' with sides and a sense of privacy. I will never forget my horror when I first visited the fantastic, no expense spared Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. Everything state of the art and 21st century, until you visit the gents. Small urinals like little white porcelain jugs, so close together that you are touching elbows. As many as they could fit in. Expected to stand in a long line, and whilst you all empty your bladders communally. you discuss the depth of Tchaikovsky's Pathetique Symphony. Is this civilisation?

Kerry said...

I actually have some sympathy for you. It's rather uncivilised. Why not start campaigning on this issue instead of smoking?