Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why Aren't There More Sri Lankan Jockeys?

Being short doesn't have many advantages. At five five I am however, significantly taller in Sri Lanka than I am in England, a weird phenomenon probably to do with the travelling and time zones I reckon.

If it wasn't genetic, if I had had a choice I definitely wouldn't have ticked the "so short that I get smaller as I walk towards you" box when filling out the form for my own specifications prior to being born. But life's like that and I count myself lucky that I've got my incredible good looks, my wicked sense of humour and ability to groove like a cat that's just been greased to fall back on.

Being tall gives a chap advantages. Things like being able to eat from tall trees, seeing at gigs when you're standing, easily changing light bulbs, painting ceilings (Michaelangelo was six foot eight you know!) and the fact that you can buy trousers without having to look for "short" sizes.

So far I've not come up with many advantages of being at the other end of the height spectrum. In fact I can think of only three.

First is the fact that you're a much needed and in demand team member whenever there's a game of hide and seek going on. Sadly this was only really useful when I was a kid, but in those days things were different and we were all short. I say we were all short, but I wasn't then, I was tall. In current times I find I'm rarely called on to play a quick game of hide and seek so it's a bit of a useless one. Though I'm partial to hiding under one of my business partners' desk and jumping out and surprising him and it's a useful asset then.

Second is when flying. I mean on a plane here, not when I actually try to spread my arms and flap, like a twat. Or a bird. And more specifically I mean when flying economy class, not business or first class. You see, as you're no doubt aware, economy class seats are made to fit short people.

Anyone approaching average height, let alone a tall person, has to squeeze into the seat as if he's some sort of Jack in the box, with the arms and legs folded awkwardly, risking blood clots and all sorts, and the head poking precariously above the seat where it can easily be shot by a legendary David Blacker type lurking at the back of the aircraft with a rifle or a rubber band with some paper folded up.

Then, once you've managed to squeeze yourself into the seat and if you have any awareness of personal space (sorry I may have lost the Lankans here!), you spend the next few hours trying your hardest to keep your knees tucked in and making sure your elbow is at the correct angle so it doesn't cross the invisible net that divides the armrest between you and your neighbour.

For the rest of us, the short people, we find our seat, get in, stretch our legs out and only very occasionally worry about the elbow situation. There have been a few times when I've been lucky enough to turn left as I get on the plane and sitting in one of those seats for me is like ambling casually around a sports stadium with no one else in it except a few muffled sounds from some staff somewhere over the other side. But the food is better and you're treated as if the airline actually wants your custom. Which is nice.

The final situation when being vertically challenged is a definite benefit is one that I only really became fully aware of last week. There I was, perusing through TV channels as one does, when I came across some horseracing, I thing it was the Epson Derby. That chap, Frankie Dettori was being interviewed. He's a famous jockey.

I was struck by his height, or not struck by it. Or struck by his lack of it. Anyhow I googled the chap to see where he stood on the matter. Turns out he's about my height. I googled a few related things like "average height of a jockey". I won't chuck a link here as I'm sure you know how to do it yourself but Wikipedia states that the average height of a jockey is under five foot six.

All of this has led me to think some things:

1. Why aren't there more Sri Lankan jockeys?

2. Perhaps I should get myself a horse. This jockeying thing can't be that hard can it. Surely you just sit there and whip the horse a bit, stroke it when it wins a race, that sort of thing. I might have to eat a bit of salad for a couple of weeks but that would be about it.

3. Do jockeys travel business class?


. said...
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Rhythmic Diaspora said...

. - Please relax. I took it as a very nice compliment. I hope your bad day gets better x