Thursday, 14 June 2012

Clinically tested*

On an Easyjet flight it is impossible to ignore the back of the headrest in front of you because it is approximately six inches closer to your face than the length of an average human male’s femur. Most people think that Easyjet only does short haul because the economics of low fare airlines don’t work over four hours but in fact it’s a neat way of ensuring that most of the deaths from deep vein thrombosis occur when the passengers are in the terminal building and someone else’s problem.

There are few things that cause the cock of an MBA student to twitch more reliably than a captive audience, which I assume explains the fact that, obscuring the vomit stains on the back of every Easyjet seat there is an advertisement. Did you know that the soft drinks sold on board are now available in larger cans? You do now. Larger than what? is the obvious question but the seat back is silent on this subject. In fact I had to consult the seat back in front of my neighbour, half the length of an average human male’s humerus to my right, to glean this intelligence on soft drinks. My own advertisement was for a gel that allegedly* causes eyelashes to grow by up to 2.5mm. Putting to one side the question why anyone with an intellect superior to a camel’s would want to encourage such growth, I read the small print. The clinical test involved 12 (sic) volunteers (sic), monitored for 28 (sic) days and this is apparently enough to satisfy the advertising standards (sic) agency that it has fulfilled its duty to protect the great British public from itself. What would we do without it? I was tempted to buy a pot of this gel, if only to determine whether its application would encourage the elongation of nipple and anal hair too but the logistical difficulties of conducting a clinical test* seemed insurmountable, so I didn’t.

Anyway, the advertisement got me thinking, another victory for the law of unintended consequences. On my short journey from Gatwick to Kingsdown, how many instances of the moronic speaking to the lobotomised could I count, without going out of my way? Here is my short but, I think, revealing list.

On inserting my (valid) ticket into the ticket barrier I got, instead of an open barrier, the message ‘seek assistance’. Why? And from whom? In the absence of available assistants I hauled my three heavy bags to one side, ignoring the curses from behind me, and went in seek of help. The representative of ‘Great Western’ eyed me as though I were a criminal (which I am, but not WRT train tickets) and eventually opened the barrier next to the one in front of which I had placed my bags.

Sagging wearily into my seat I noticed that there was a leaflet in a pouch on the seat back, mercifully further in front of me than the length of my femur. ‘Please read this safety notice. It is intended to help you in the event of an emergency.’ It said. Just below this request, printed in bold, were the words ‘Do not remove’. If I were autistic I’d probably have committed suicide before reaching Swindon, having tried vainly to reconcile these mutually exclusive instructions but, in the event, I went to the buffet.

A large notice invited me to purchase one of the new ‘premium’ sandwiches. Unfortunately for those on a limited budget, there were no sub-prime sandwiches available, so I was forced to splash out on a premium BLT (same soggy bread, pig meat oozing pale, sticky fluid and limp lettuce, new higher price). I presume that the sign asserting that ‘All our sandwiches are made with specially selected ingredients’ was designed to reassure me and other potential sandwich buyers. ‘Ooh, look, they’ve selected the ingredients specially. Well, I think I’ll take six then.’

Arriving at Chippenham a genuinely nice bloke offered to help me carry my bags over the bridge to the exit. I’m sure that it says more about 21st Century Homo sapiens than it does about me that this small act of kindness struck me at first as suspicious.

‘Lose 4kg in 28 days without going on a diet’. So read the front page of ‘Men’s Health’, a magazine devoted to, I presume, men’s health. If ever an asterisk were needed, this is surely the situation but there was no sign of *by running a marathon every day or * by committing suicide and allowing your corpse to decompose.

Here is a serious question. Is anyone reading this stupid enough to imagine that it is possible to lose weight without metabolising more calories than you consume? If you want to lose weight you can: eat less; exercise more or buy pills that cause your intestine to absorb less of the stuff you feed it. If you adopt the latter option you’ll have to put up with shitting liquid fat every few hours, an undeniable fact that the advertisements probably don’t mention. If you’ve found another way to convert matter into hot air, I beg you to publish in Physical Reviews, not Men’s Health.

So here I am, back home, having either survived or surrendered to the bullshit in which we are all permanently submerged. I am not a fan of regulation (feel free to disagree) but here are some ideas that I think actually deserve an asterisk but which will never receive one.

The meek shall inherit the earth.*1

Smokers die younger*2

Investing for a new world*3


1.     …after a few thousand years of purgatory.
2.     …but a lot happier than tambourine-players
3.     … is not clever.
4.     …there are better ways to waste your money


Ron Tomlinson said...

-- Tom

torquatus said...

Thanks for the link. If the story is true, it certainly puts in context the time I was required by security at Perugia Airport to put my carbon fiber camera tripod in the hold, presumably lest I should be tempted to beat the Ryanair trolley dolly to death with it. However, it isn't the airline that screens bags, at least at Bristol airport, it's the airport authorities. Perhaps security checked with Easyjet, who then denied knowledge of prior clearance but, if so, the journo should have made this clear...