THANK GOODNESS Fardel is almost back from his travels. People have often said to me (one said this as recently as Friday) that the best bits of this website are often the commentators, not the host.
Too true. This column is teamwork. You write the stuff. I get paid for it.
In the meantime, I have had some personal bad news.
The global obesity epidemic has claimed another victim. It’s me. I ate a chocolate muffin with my morning coffee. This was a MAJOR tactical error. I’d barely finished the last mouthful when I expanded, Alice-like, to about ten times my normal size.
The horrific thing was that this took place shortly before a scheduled meeting with the person who knows me most intimately: my tailor. Too embarrassed to let him see me as a grotesque, lumbering giant, I postponed my appointment for a month to give myself time for drastic action.
Then I went to the shops to buy some off-the-peg clothes. Now you may think that buying clothes in order to visit a tailor is silly and illogical, but may I remind you that a wide range of scientists (including creationists) agree that the largest single substance in the universe is Male Vanity.
So I spent half an hour trying on a range of clothes at a department store. I was delighted with the results, discovering that I was only two inches (four cm) larger than I had been as a student. All those years of dedicated, round-the-clock curry-eating had expanded my waistline only slightly, from 28 to 30 inches.
Over dinner that evening, my bubble was burst by reader Kim Ho, who said: “Don’t you know about size inflation? If a woman buys a size 14 dress now, it’s labeled size 12 or 10 or even eight.”
Unnerved by this, I waited till she had gone before whipping off my clothes and investigating, using a ruler from my kids’ school bag. She was right. All the “30 inch” garments I had bought were actually size 33, 34 or more!
It’s hard to describe the horror a man feels when he is betrayed by his own underpants.
This needed investigating. A friend in the garment industry who wants to go unnamed so she can stay alive, confirmed the truth of Kim’s allegations, and spilled another secret: “Mirrors in in-store dressing rooms are concave. They trick you into thinking you are skinnier than you are.”
She referred me to a gentleman named Rod Collins, who has published research on vanity sizing. Deliberately mislabeled clothes are a massive health scandal, he claims, adding: “A man with a 34- to 36-inch waist doubles his risk of diabetes. How do 99.9 per cent of men know their waist size? By the trousers they wear.”
Shocked by all this, I retired for some comfort to the coffee shop where this journey of discovery had started. “Just give me a small coffee,” I said. The girl at the counter said: “You mean tall.”
“No, small,” I repeated. But then I looked at the display. The smallest ones had all been relabeled “tall”. The larger ones all had stupid fake Italian names, such as grande, venti, enormo, voluptuo, humungo, lardo, obesito, etc.
I was reminded about the way that US burger chain Wendy’s famously relabeled their large portions “medium” (and their regular customers “whales”).
What does this prove? It shows that all business people are crooks and should be locked up for life. I was so angry about this that I needed an obesito-sized coffee to help me calm down.
AND a chocolate muffin.