Many years ago myself and my sister, while on holiday in South Africa, were offered a flight in a Tiger Moth light aircraft. If you are not familiar with a Tiger Moth, it is a very small 4 seater plane with considerably less room than an average car. This inspired in us a dichotomy of emotions:
- Excitement at the honour and thrill of being able to take part in such a fantastic experience
- Fear and dread. Not at the prospect of flying in such a small aircraft but at the very real and present danger of having to divulge something that should never be revealed to another living person; our weight
What to do? Was it excessive to consider missing out on a once in a lifetime flight over the plains and waterfalls of Africa in order to a) avoid the embarrassment of having to reveal our considerable (or so we thought) poundage and b) potentially being told we were too fat to fly? As terrifying as the prospect was, we concluded that yes it possibly was and that we should ‘woman up’ and face the music.
Of course we devised our own strategy for doing so. To save ourselves, and the pilot, the embarrassment of revealing the magic number we decided that the whole thing would be much more civilised if we could express that weight in terms of pop stars rather than stones and pounds. Eg 2 Kylie Minogues and a Geri Halliwell. We had a plan.
It turned out that our cunning plan was in fact unnecessary. When the day came and we met the pilot and co-pilot for the first time we were faced by a couple of gentlemen who could only be described as weighing at least 2 Princes and an Iggy Pop each. All 4 of us (the equivalent of 12 pop stars) squeezed ourselves in, happy that we had never had had to utter a word about weight, though there was always the prospect of plummeting like a stone from the sky and being dined on for several days by lions who had never known such a generous feast. Hey ho, we were no stranger to fear by this point. Needless to say, we survived.
I never imagined that all these years later I would be faced once more by the very same thing. Next month I will be taking part in a hot air balloon flight, something that has been a dream of mine for a long time. They asked The Question.
Unfortunately they caught me on the hop; I was not prepared, I did not have the presence of mind to calibrate to the equivalent weight in pop singers/reality TV stars/soap actresses (in hindsight 1 Nicki from Big Brother, a Jessie J and Tina off of Corrie Norrie). I did what I swore all those years ago that I would never do; I revealed my weight in pounds to another living person. I felt so dirty.
Obviously I knocked a stone off. I figure that either I can lose that stone before next month (not going so well so far) or they allow for that anyway and even if they don’t and everyone is a stone heavier than they admitted to and we plunge to our deaths on the rolling plains of Doncaster, at least our secret dies with us. There’s a certain poetry about that that I can’t deny.