If 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...