Monday, October 11, 2010

Invaded

Justin Fletcher as Mr TumbleIf an English man’s home is his castle then his garden is surely his bailey.

Now, although Karen and I haven’t dunged ours about with watchtowers and weapons of war we have (at considerable expense) erected the kind of fence that even Daley Thompson would have trouble pole vaulting over.

So it was with some considerable shock that whilst going about our cosy family business in the dining room yesterday we spied a complete stranger running across our lawn towards our side gate and from thence to the street beyond.

Who this guy was we have no idea. We have never seen him before.

My wife’s only reaction was to drop her jaw. The guy saw this, waggled a finger to her as if to say, “no,” and carried on running. I didn’t get a good look at him but my wife did. He was, to quote her exactly, “chubby – in his twenties and plainly running from someone.”

Aside from the annoyance and sense of outrage this engendered in me (“Get orf moi laaaand!”) – not least because he left our garden gate wide open and we are constantly at pains to keep it secured lest our little ‘un wander out onto the street – he also aroused my curiosity.

Namely because my first reaction from my wife’s description of him was to surmise that he was merely trying to escape bullies or some yobs.

Why did my tiny mind jump to this conclusion? Because he was “chubby”. And that struck me as odd. (a) That my immediate conclusion to a fat person running across our lawn must be because he was trying to escape a mob of size zero Nazi’s with pitchforks and copies of the Atkins diet and (b) that I never considered that his slightly larger body shape might be disguising a thief, murderer, rapist or even a garden gnome defiler.

It just did not occur.

I mean, I’m annoyed he invaded the sanctity of my garden by making it his personal escape route to the chippy up the road but my first reaction wasn’t one of feeling threatened. His body shape somehow rendered him non-threatening. To the point where I wonder why the police don’t employ “big boned” people to act as hostage negotiators or anti siege personnel. I mean, if you were on a bridge about to commit suicide the one person bound to talk you down successfully would be Cbeebies chubber, Justin Fletcher, right?

OK. So that argument fell down at the first hurdle. Scrub that.

But it did make me think very seriously about how the media has trained us all to judge people purely on their body shape. What huge assumptions we all make based on waist size and body mass index.

I mean for all I know, My Chubby could have been running a marathon and had just got himself completely lost...


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47 comments:

Suzanne said...

Mr Tuuuuummmbles?
At least he didn't "sign" anything rude.
What a good read to start my day.

Previously (Very) Lost in France said...

Steve, amongst your usual wonderfully funny way of writing is a very serious question. Bugger me, it's only Monday morning too! On a slightly similar vein, I've applied for a job recently and because my CV includes my 4 years as a trolly dolly, the man for whom I would work has immediately jumped to certain conclusions about my morphology. (I know this because my friend works in the HR department) Boy is in he in for a disappointment!

Nota Bene said...

Ah...I can only say...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3h-T3KQNxU

Steve said...

Suzanne: if it had been Mr Tumble I'd've grabbed a pitchfork myself.

Previously (Very) Lost in France: you can never judge a book by its cover or indeed the thickness of its spine or even its title. Or even, sometimes, its reviewer.

Nota Bene: you're right. He could have been performing some emergency repointing of the brickwork at the side of my house free of charge. That should have been the first thing I thought of!

the fly in the web said...

Yerss....people think I'm a harmless old bag based on appearances...

Steve said...

The fly in the web: I suspect that might be a mistake that costs some people dear...! ;-)

Very Bored in Catalunya said...

I love how you gallantly leapt to your feet, rugby tackled the intruder to the ground and made a citizens arrest... oh wait, hang on...

;-)

Trish @ Mum's Gone to... said...

He was probably trying to get away from all the other nutters that seem to live in your neck of the woods. Do you have a cluster?

Steve said...

Very Bored in Catalunya: I had just stepped out of the shower; there were enough odd shaped balls flying around without me playing rugby with him! ;-)

Trish: I could do with some cluster bombs!

femminismo said...

Funny! Again. I love the idea he was in a marathon and got lost. Oh, yes, how we do judge people based on how they look. And what a mistake that is most of the time. Lord knows what we lose (friendships, help, joy) when we judge this way. Hey, I know a book for you if you haven't played in a while! (i read your post on my blog) cheers!

French Fancy... said...

Remember that Burt Lancaster film 'The Swimmer' where the character had to swim through everyone's pools (why?), perhaps your human Cartman was running through all the gardens in Leamington.

Steve said...

Femminismo: am intrigued with regards the book. And you're right about the lost opportunities when we judge people by appearance alone... however, in this case, I don't think I missed out on a valuable friend. A jogging companion maybe.

FF: well he missed out next door's... though maybe he's still going and will come back and do that tomorrow?

vegemitevix said...

Was he purple? Carrying a handbag? Bit pointy headed, like perhaps he had an antenna or something?

Kelloggsville said...

I am most concerned about the finger waggling. What was that trying to say? 'no' you can't bed me now I'm busy, 'no' I'm not really running across your lawn, 'no' don't call the police, 'no' I am not Mt Tumbles ffs if one more person thinks that I'll, 'no' I cannot sign, no what....

Steve said...

Vegemitevix: eh oh?

Kelloggsville: yes, I've pondered similar questions... the one I came up with was "no, it's not what you think..." This seems the most accurate because I'm sure it's true.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Mysteriouser and mysteriouser.

Though Garden Sheds are the new mecca of domestic burglaries apparently, so I would check my mower in your shoes.

Steve said...

Laura: how the hell did you fit your mower into my shoes?

The Dotterel said...

Look, I was merely trying to find the source of your inspiration Steve... let's leave it, shall we?

Steve said...

TheDotterel: I'm amazed you decided to ignore the compost heap.

Being Me said...

Personal escape route to the chippy up the road? That had me holding my ample belly and guffawing before I lamented the distinct lack of chips in my house.

English Rider said...

He made eye-contact, which is another thing in his favor. It does sound strange though.
Unsolicited advice: put one of those springs on the gate so that it self-closes to contain kidlet.

Owen said...

You may want to try digging a large pit about ten feet deep, then covering it over with carefully camouflaged fallen leaves and things. The next time he scurries across your lawn, and falls in, you can then ask him what he's doing there, and depending if you like the answer or not, you can decide what to do next... i.e., fill pit with boiling oil, or drop in a ladder to allow escape, etc...

femminismo said...

Oh, the book is one I saw Saturday in Borders book store. Do you have Borders over there, across the pond, as it were? The book is called something like "100 Things To Do Before You Grow Up" or: Grow too Old to do Them. It would be a great book for you and you son? What's your address? E-mail it to me, OK?

Steve said...

Being Me: I'd be happy to send you a portion through the post. Do you want them with salt 'n' vinegar or without?

English Rider: sage advice - thank you. Or we could just electrify the gate.

Owen: fabulous idea. If we decide to "keep him" I could also erecr a roasting spit on the lawn. He'd sustain my family through the longest, hardest winter.

Femminismo: aw, that's immensely kind of you!

Crystal Jigsaw said...

It does seem a little odd though doesn't it? I would have been pretty shook up by it but I'm not very trusting.

CJ xx

Steve said...

CJ: sometimes that's the safest way to be - especially when strangers are running through your garden!

Rol said...

Never mind all the body facism stuff, just buy a few mantraps.

Steve said...

Rol: I take it you're not a garden party kind of guy?

Mark said...

Time to get a dogs.

And that chubby wagging finger was bit odd to me. What was he trying to say? No chips for you?

Steve said...

Mark: I don't know about the chips but I reckon I could hazard a guess as to where all the pies went.

LöstJimmy said...

There's a 60s film starring Burt Lancaster in which the main protagonist makes it his business to swim across the district via back yard swimming pools...perhaps your Mr Tumbles was working on a garden by garden version of the very same scenario, no?
Was he wearing trunks by the way?

Janete Cabral said...

Must be quite a disturbing experience!

I do like my privacy and especially with a little one around.

Steve said...

LöstJimmy: nothing in the entire world would have been as disturbing as seeing this guy in swimming trunks in my back garden...!

Janete: it was a mite unsettling, yes!

Organic Motherhood with Cool Whip said...

Okay, I just left you a long comment and the computer ate it. Dangit!! Anyway, I basically just said that I think you are hilarious. But that what you wrote is also very true. I make ignorant judgements of people in my mind plenty and I love that you are willing to admit to this on your blog and make us all think about why we do this. That said, I am still wondering what that guy was doing.... Did you ever figure it out???

Steve said...

Organic Motherhood with Cool Whip: nope, I still have absolutely no idea. It's bizarre, isn't it? I mean, if he was naked, we would have just assumed he was a pervert and our curiosity would have ended right there!

joebloggs said...

I hate that TUMBLES, if it was him then replace the washing line with piano wire!! that will teach the "Rolly Polly" mime "artiste" to keep his head down, hah.. now sign where's my hat!!

Steve said...

Joe: I have a feeling that should Mr Tumble's head be removed his body will still caper about performing prattfalls and forward rolls. I may have to invest in a hand grenade or three.

misssy m said...

Y'see the thing is since you put that pic of Mr tumbles at the top of the post, the whole way through it all I could say was Mr Tumbles in your garden. At one point I even imagined he was streaking. Don;t know why but a naked Mr Tumbles racing across a lawn popped into my head.

I'll get me coat...

Steve said...

Misssy M: Mr Tumble streaking...?!?! No. That is wrong. That is so wrong... damn it, woman, I'm calling the police. You need help.

Clippy Mat said...

well when we were in NY city recently my sister asked me why all of the cops had guns. I explained that as they were all so flippin' 'chubby' (FAT) they'd never be able to actually run after any criminals so it was much easier to just pull out a weapon and shoot the buggers.
So: your chubby was actually an unarmed police officer.
k?
:-)

Steve said...

Clippy Mat: that makes me feel a helluva lot better. But who the hell was he chasing through my garden?!

Heather said...

Steve, mate, you've really got to move! what the hell is this freaky place you live?

Steve said...

Heather: you're telling me! We seriously considered moving to Lapland... but then did some research on its citizens... sheesh! We're staying put.

Owen said...

Yes, yes, yes, now you're thinking ! If you need some barbecue sauce I now know a good source in the US...

Steve said...

Owen: glad it's a US brand 'cos, given the size of this guy, I'd need an awful lot...

Modern Military Mother said...

I have to say chubby or non - I wouldn't be HP at all!!

Steve said...

Modern Military Mother: you've managed to give "chubby" very unsavoury undertones... how did you do that?