British Expat Newsletter:
23 February 2005

Hello, and welcome to those who have joined up since our last newsletter.

In this issue

  • This week: Height
  • Virtual Snacks
  • Sponsor
  • Bizarre Searches
  • Joke and quotation

This week

Have you ever wondered about what life would be like if you were a different size?

The reason I ask is that when Dave and I were on the way back from Penang last week – another visa trip – we were sitting on a bus from Bangkok, and Dave was complaining that his seat gave him no support for the small of his back. Meanwhile, I was perfectly comfortable in mine. Swapping seats made no difference (except that I no longer had to fight with the fat guy on the other side of me to get the whole of the seat I’d paid for). Of course, the seats were designed with the average sized Thai in mind, not with the rather bigger (and fatter) Western physique. My gain – I’m 5′ 2″/1.58m, Dave’s 5′ 11″/1.80m.

Travelling is one of the few times when being short seems to be a boon – small seats don’t matter, lack of legroom in economy class won’t lead to deep-vein thrombosis – rather than a curse. On average, tall people make more money. And apparently that applies even when you’re talking about babies – babies which are taller on their first birthday tend to go on to achieve more academically and to earn more as adults.

Which brings me onto the question of perceptions. Short people have had a raw deal in the past; British propaganda during the Napoleonic Wars largely focused on Napoleon’s short stature in an attempt to ridicule him as unduly combative yet insignificant. (He was actually 5′ 7″/1.70m, above average height for his time.) It’s no accident that Lord Farquaad in “Shrek” is so short. Some short people play on the cliché about their chippiness for humorous effect, like the frankly weird Short People UNITE! website (see Virtual Snacks, below) and its call for the short to take over the world. According to SPUnite, the upper height limit for short people is 5′ 3″. Wahey! I’m eligible to join.

To a certain extent, tall people are held in higher (sorry) regard. Some of this is self-sustaining; it’s nice to be able to look down on people. To quote one family website I found while researching this: “Tall people have all sorts of natural advantages. We know we are superior”! Incidentally, there seem to be many more resources on the Internet for the very tall (including Tall Clubs International at – “truly international”, they proclaim, as they have members in the US and Canada. Wow). Websites for the vertically challenged are, to borrow one of the jokes from Shrek, in short supply. (Sorry again.)

But it only goes so far. Beyond a certain height, and the least the very tall have to put up with are the inane questions like: “Do you play basketball?” or: “What’s the weather like up there?” There are also the clichéd perceptions that the very tall are somehow socially inept, clumsy and intellectually slow. None of this may be true of any given individual, but the perceptions are still there.

There’s been much debate about whether it wouldn’t be better to treat children who look as if they’re likely to vary significantly from the norm. Interestingly, many of the unusually tall or short argue against it. The tall argue that humans as a race are growing, and that design standards should be amended from time to time to take account of this. Arguments found against treatment to boost small children’s growth are less common – presumably because the short tend to experience more practical and psychological disadvantages. Nevertheless, one very thoughtful article by Miriam Schulman argues that to approve the use of human growth hormone where the cause of short stature is unknown, as the US Food and Drug Administration did a couple of years ago, is to consider shortness per se as a disease – a dangerous step.
[Obsolete link removed]

All the same, some adults go so far as to have their legs broken and reset to adjust their height. Too drastic a step for me – I’m happy enough with what I’ve got. Although it would be nice not to have to keep nagging Dave to reach up and put the shower temperature back the way it was after he’s finished.

How about you? Would you be glad of a couple of extra inches’ height, or a couple fewer? Were you thwarted in your ambition to become a ballerina/policeman because you weren’t the right height? Why not comment and let us know?

Virtual Snacks

Just a couple of suggestions if you have a little time to spare:

Ever wondered how tall you are in comparison to the celebrities? You can find out at Many of the famous people and their heights. Some are a bit dodgy – there are two Mel Gibsons, for instance – and there’s a decided US bias, but it’s still a bit of fun.

If you feel put upon because you’re short, never fear – help is at hand. Short People UNITE!

Bizarre Searches

Some strange search terms which have led people to visit British Expat recently:

  • tips for new supermarket in india (4)
  • tutus (4)
  • manner british lifestyle (3)
  • eddie izzard gossip (3)
  • how to kill honeysuckle (3)
  • slavery trivia and quiz (3)
  • (2)
  • bruises from hockey (2)
  • halle berry billy bob sex scene pictures (2)
  • pictures of penises (2)
  • cartoon bitch good (1)
  • shopping in chicago for handmade chess (1)

Till next time…
Happy surfing!

British Expat Magazine


“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great. ” – Mark Twain (born 1835, died 1910. We weren’t able to find out how tall he was.)


A group of ex-nursery school kids were trying very hard to become accustomed to primary school. The biggest hurdle they faced was that the teacher insisted there should be NO baby talk!

“You need to use ‘Big People’ words,” she was always reminding them. She asked Chris what he had done over the weekend.

“I went to visit my Nana.”

“No, you went to visit your GRANDMOTHER. Use ‘Big People’ words!”

She then asked Mitchell what he had done.

“I went for a ride on a choo-choo.”

She said “No, you went for a ride on a TRAIN. You must remember to use ‘Big People’ words.”

She then asked little Alex what he had done.

“I read a book,” he replied.

“That’s wonderful!” the teacher said. “What book did you read?”

Alex thought really hard about it, then puffed out his chest with great pride and said, “Winnie the Shit!”

This entry was posted in 2005 and tagged , by Kay McMahon. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kay McMahon

Kay has been an expat for nearly 30 years. She set up the British Expat website back in early 2000, whilst living in London and missing the expat life. These days she spends much of her time lugging computers and cameras around the world. (Dave gets to deal with all the really heavy stuff.)

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