Bottoms

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Twelve years ago I had a spell in hospital. They were feeding me through a tube and I lost a lot of weight. During a nightshirted shuffle around the ward, accompanied by my drip-feed, the nurses at their station asked me how I was feeling. I expressed concern that my bum seemed to have disappeared. They laughingly professed envy and asked my secret.

At that time, and for many decades prior, it was fashionable for women to want smaller bottoms than the ones nature had endowed them with. It was even a meme before memes became fashionable: “Does my bum look big in this?”

It was not always so, of course. In the mid-Victorian era artificial bottoms in the form of bustles were all the rage.

Now the wheel has come full circle and big bottoms are very definitely in. By way of evidence I present (top right of this post) the cover of an Australian Sunday supplement. But who or what caused this seismic shift? Was it Pippa Middleton’s doing, when her behind stole the show at her sister’s wedding to Prince William? Or was it engineered by the Kardashian clan for some dark purpose?

Can anyone enlighten me? Who decides these things? How is the signal sent to all the women in the world? By what alchemy are people’s self-perceptions turned upside-down overnight?

Wimbledon

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A street in Wimbledon

There are place whose names conjure up emotions that are out of all proportion to geographical reality.  One thinks immediately of Paris, Samarkand, Xanadu… and Wimbledon.

I have a 326-year-old map of Midlesex [sic] hanging on my office wall. There are a few place names south of the Thames. Roehampton is there, spelt ‘Rowhampton’, but that suburb’s neighbour Wimbledon is absent. Now it rates inclusion in the London A-Z, but this random streetscape (courtesy of Google Maps) hints at nothing extraordinary. And yet…

Last night Mrs SG and I watched spellbound as Ashleigh Barty, carrier of Australia’s sporting hopes, battled with Karolina Plišková to win the Women’s Singles championship. Her victory was followed by royal pomp and graciousness, an interview, a quantity of photographs that in the pre-digital age would have dented the world’s supply of silver, and holding aloft the trophy plate until her arms must have ached.

Ashleigh Barty

And all the time one was aware of the dark green colour scheme of the stands, the worn grass, the military efficiency of the ballboys/girls… it could have been nowhere else but on the hallowed sod that mortals call Wimbledon.

POSTSCRIPT

Mrs SG and I had our second Covid-19 vaccinations this week: AstaZeneca both times, no side-effects.  We were told that our chances of dying from a consequential blood clot are, respectively, 1.9 and 1.8 per million. As a mental exercise I estimated the lifetime odds of dying in a road accident:

Road accident deaths in Australia = 1,580 in 2020
Equivalent to 61.5 per million inhabitants per year
Average life expectancy = 83.5 years
So lifetime odds = 61.5 x 83.5 = 5,135 per million, or 0.5%

I know… lies, damn lies and statistics.  But for me it puts things in perspective.  And of course the chance of dying if you catch the Covid-19 virus is around 2% and the chance of dying of something is 100%. But not for Ashleigh. She has joined the Sporting Immortals. For such as she cremation is but a hiccup.