The Topical Barometer!


Somebody once told me my legs were ‘shapely.’ I think it was a compliment but I am not good at receiving compliments so I retorted, “Yes, but they’re too close to the ground.”

I continue to hold firmly to this belief.

I am short. 160cm in a following wind.

I am destined always to need help reaching the top shelf goods in supermarkets (thank goodness porn went online, right!), never to achieve a place on the high jump team and always to require the services of a seamstress to take up new trousers.

The world belongs to those with an inside leg in excess of 32”. It’s a simple equation: long legs equal success.

Just look at the Moulin Rouge where, I read this week, twenty-three of the sixty show girls who perform there are British. All of them over 5’9” because ‘long legs make the kicks look fabulous.’ Of course they do.

Just one more career avenue cruelly closed to me. And to think of those ra-ra skirts I wore so well in the 80s! If only the careers officer had been more honest and told me to stop dressing like the can-can girl I could never be!

We’ve known for a while that being tall increases your chances of success. The so called ‘Height Premium’ means a person who is 6’ tall can expect to earn £100,000 more over a lifetime than a person who is 5’4”.

I am 5’3”. I had thought the reason for my low pay was down to my being in possession of a womb and accompanying bosom. But no! It’s because of these legs being too close to the ground!

And if you need further evidence that extra height and leg length confers an advantage in the race of Life, I’ll just casually throw in here that Donald Trump is 6’3”.

Life is so unfair.



Happy new year. Well it would be if people could just stop bragging about their Dry Januaries.

Dry January has grown so much in popularity over the past few years that it’s in danger of becoming an actual New Year thing along with watching Jools Holland’s Hootenanny and putting the Christmas tree by the porch/back gate/patio ready for disposal sometime in late July.

In my experience Dry January suits two kinds of people: the smug and the joyless.

January is horrible. It’s cold and grey and lasts too long. It comes with tax demands and post Christmas credit card bills and icy windscreens. We drive to work on gritted roads through gritted teeth. And back again in the dark.

And you want to go without the delight of a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc or the warm embrace of a pint of stout to add to the misery?

I have never been a fan of sacrifice and self denial. It’s why me and Jesus didn’t really get on.

I am not a big drinker but I really, really appreciate a glass of wine three or four nights a week (I’m talking Thursday through Sunday here) with my supper.

The twinkling of a glass of bubbles at the weekend makes my heart sing and the first cool, fizzing, mineral sensation on my tongue makes me very, very happy.

And it turns out, my moderate approach is actually rather good for me.

A report in The Times this week claims that bouts of ‘binge abstinence’ are unlikely to make any significant improvements to health and ‘nag people with no drink problem into feeling guilty.’

Far better to have two or three alcohol-free days each week of the year than force oneself through a month of abstinence so as to justify bingeing through the next eleven.

The British though, are fond of extremes. If moderation suited us, Nigel Farage would be given far less air time,  the Northwhich panto would be a Kerry-Katona free zone and the Daily Mail would cease to exist.

Do Dry January if you must. If competitive self denial floats your boat, forgo that cheery cocktail or glass of Bordeaux. Just keep it to yourself. You are not one of the hundreds of celebrities who are being paid to talk about it. Their smugness wins them cash, yours will lose you friends.


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  1. Yes, let us celebrate the moment! Dry January appears to go ‘hand in hand’ with the ‘let’s look forward to the next thing’, no enjoying the time you’re in! Albeit I’ve had to be dry since end of December anyway due to having to take extra medication!!! 🙁

  2. My birthday is in January, Sam, so because of the cold, grey days we never go anywhere as it’s not much fun at that time of the year.

    However, The Mem’Sahib’s birthday is in early April so we always go away for a short break for hers.

    Whatever my parents were doing around Easter or Whitsun in 1949 (was it unseasonably warm that year?)it’s a shame they didn’t wait until the middle of the year so I could have a decent weekend away for my birthday.