Tuesday, March 14, 2017


I’m waiting to check my bags at the airport and it has just occurred to me that I am paying a premium to fly due to my short stature.

Think about it, I’m flying to Cyprus, and allowed to take a single bag with me that weighs no more than 30 pounds. Now, I weigh 160 (ish) pounds, so that’s a total of 190 pounds added to the weight of the aircraft at a cost of £X. So for each pound, it is costing me £X/190.

In front a me is a guy who, to be kind, weighs at least 200 pounds. So his cost per pound will be £X/230, meaning he is getting a better deal. Given this, it stands to reason that I should be charged less, or allowed to bring a suitcase weighing 70 pounds, to even things out.

(For you folks who went to school after the invention of calculators, lets say X=£200. So I’m paying £200 divided by 190, or £1.05 per lb, while the guy in front of me is paying £200 divided by 230 or only £.87 per pound.)

I understand why the airlines don’t charge people by how much they weigh, but you can see why I think they should.

So, why Cyprus? To my American friends, it must seem an unlikely destination, especially since, as I recall from my life in America, Cyprus doesn’t exist. In America, the world pretty much consists of America. If pressed, most of us will grudgingly admit to Canada and Mexico, and others might recall hearing about a place called Europe and a vague area known as The Rest of the World.

But Cyprus? Not heard of it. Did we ever invade it? No? Oh, that’s why I never heard of it.

Left to Right, Top to Bottom: Canada, Europe, America, the Rest of The World
Tiny little island: Cyprus

Cyprus, I understand, is an island in the Mediterranean, located somewhere between Europe and the Rest of the World, and rather closer to Syria than I should like it to be. For Brits, however, it offers the ideal holiday destination—it is sunny, warm and a member of their erstwhile empire, which means the indigenous population speaks passable English and you can get a breakfast that includes baked beans and fried tomatoes without anyone thinking you’re weird.

Nice enough island, but some dodgy neighbors. 

The selling point for us was, my wife had already been there and had found it agreeable. So that’s where we are going.

In order to avoid being the ugly American, I did some quick research on Cyprus (because, as mentioned earlier, Cyprus did not exist in my world until my wife showed me the travel brochure) and found it to be a rather intriguing place.

Any patch of land on the planet can only hope to realize a few good selling points: it can be strategically located, rich in resources, or both. The downside is, it will also be forever drenched in the blood of people fighting to control it. On the other hand, a patch of land might find itself inaccessible and/or desolate, in which case it will perpetually play host to a tiny population living in endemic poverty. (I’ve left “Stunning vistas” out of this equation because that was never really a selling point until the invention of tourism. You don’t think the Romans were up in Cumbria fighting the Picts because they liked the view, do you?)

At any rate, Cyprus had the good fortune (or the bad luck) to be the former. As a strategic stopping off point between Africa, the Middle East and Europe—with fertile soil, an agreeable climate and some really pretty beaches—it fell, at various times, under the control of the Assyrians, Romans, Greeks, Persians and the British, before gaining independence in 1960.

As an independent nation, it lived a quiet life until July 1974, when Turkey decided it looked interesting and blood flowed once again. The reasons were varied and complex but the result was rape, pillage and massacres on both sides and an uneasy truce that sees half of the island occupied by the Turks and a DMZ patrolled by the UN.

The bloodshed has stopped, however, and a generation has passed, so now the DMZ and the occupied zone have become tourist attractions in their own right. I’m looking forward to seeing them.

And that time is getting closer, as it is now my turn to check my bag. I wonder if I can convince the young woman behind the counter to give me a discount because of my size.

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