I am writing this at home because last week my ergonomic chair at the Guardian fell apart, unable any longer to bear my weight. I am writing it on a computer that is propped on top of two thick books, because otherwise my neck would be cricked as I peered down at the screen. At 6ft 4in and weighing ... well, I'm not going to say what I weigh, but think second-row rugby union forward ... I am not built for this world.
We Brobdingnagians therefore welcome a new report from Professor Tim Hatton at the University of Essex, demonstrating that the average height of men in Europe has increased by 4in in the past century and in the UK by a whopping 5in. A similar increase is likely to have occurred among women, but, because the study is based in part on military records, evidence is thinner on the ground.
The problem, as Hatton observes, is that the world hasn't kept pace with our increased height. I long ago abandoned buses – levering myself into a narrow seat was impossible. Air travel is also challenging. I was in the back row of an easyJet plane recently, which has even less space than an ordinary seat, and would have ended up with severe backache had it not been for some thoughtful passenger not turning up, allowing me to relocate to an aisle seat where the only danger is being hit by the trolley.
Small cars are impossible – I have to drive with my head through the sunroof. West End theatres are hopelessly cramped. Ditto cricket grounds: I would under no circumstances pay £80 for a plastic bucket seat at a Test match, where I would be wedged uneasily between two loud, red-trousered merchant bankers sipping warm champagne. As for those appalling pine beds with footboards, usually found in absurdly small hotel rooms where I invariably get stuck in the loo because the door won't open with me inside, they should be banned immediately.
Our extra height generally means extra weight. US data shows baseball players are on average 3in taller and 2st heavier than they were a century ago – and these are the super-fit guys. Other data suggests ordinary Americans have added an inch and 2st in the past 50 years alone. We are all Brobdingnagians now – or will be soon. As a representative of this new breed, I would say just one thing: beware garden furniture. It appears to be made for gnomes. I routinely eviscerate pleasant-looking but wholly impractical cane chairs, and once, while interviewing the actress Jenny Seagrove, snapped the strings of a hammock-type chair in her garden. It is not easy to get your interviewee to take you seriously after your vast bulk has been plunged unceremoniously on to their manicured lawn.