The thing about size, is that it’s all relative. We see this relativity in action here in Jersey all the time. Living on a forty-five square mile piece of granite that is socially and economically alike to a ‘proper country’ places us squarely in a microcosmic reality; a ‘small world’.
The trouble with our charming ‘small world’ is that it is getting smaller… Well, relatively at least; because we are getting bigger. It’s true on several levels; the population is growing larger all the time – according to the States of Jersey website population page we have gone from a (relatively, again) sparse 87,400 in 2001 to a teeming 97,857 in 2011. Also, each successive generation of kids seems to be taller than the last… That and the ever increasing obesity warnings mean we are getting literally, physically bigger, too. This has led to an unfortunate modern ‘through the looking glass’ experience. Have you seen the abundance of lovely apartment buildings that are popping up around the place?
A friend recently moved into one such ‘modern and spacious’ apartment. A strapping lad of 6’4’’, he was taken by the lavish brochures and marvelled at the apparent space in the seemingly small measuring rooms. ‘Tardis-like’, they seemed to defy the very laws of physics, amply housing all the modern conveniences, and plenty of storage to boot. Further swaying him towards moving in was the lure of ‘deluxe bespoke furniture throughout’. Of course, these two attractive factors were to prove to be diabolically linked. The ‘bespoke furniture’ was in fact tailor made for the room measurements, and once the plush newness of the brand spanking flat began to lose it’s novelty, the evil genius of the designer began to reveal itself.
Trying to sit three people on the ‘three seater sofa’ inevitably led to an invasion of personal space for all involved. Attempting to put a frying pan into the cupboard next to the cooker would prove to be an exercise in spatial puzzle-solving, and, in a cruel but satisfyingly hygienic twist of fate, you had to do the washing up… Because there simply wasn’t room for the dirty dishes next to the sink.
The final straw came when one night, having ‘company’ for the first time in his new abode, the unfortunate modern Gulliver found himself and partner accidentally rolling off the miniaturised ‘double bed’; only to become firmly and inextricably wedged between said diminutive divan and the alarmingly thin bedroom wall!
Although his plight may be hilarious, it may be one we all share if the population continues to – in all senses – expand. We could all find ourselves relative giants – surrounded by space saving mini-furniture and increasingly miniaturised technology – that crams everything you could need into one small unit. I’ll bet you never thought the dreaded phrase “does my bum look big in this?” could apply to your house…
Although the last paragraph is no doubt a dramatic-for-comedy’s sake exaggeration, I want to scare you a little with some scientific trivia that supports it, if I may; The human population is growing at such an alarming rate that now, when it comes to organising our societies, we have more in common with ants than our closest living animal relatives, the chimpanzees.
Mark Moffett, author of a new study, published in the journal Behavioral Ecology wrote; “With a maximum size of about 100, no chimpanzee group has to deal with issues of public health, infrastructure, distribution of goods and services, market economies, mass transit problems, assembly lines and complex teamwork, agriculture and animal domestication, warfare and slavery.’
“Ants have developed behaviors addressing all of these problems,” added Moffett, a research associate at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. He pointed out that only humans and ants have developed full-blown warfare.
Look on the bright side though… We’re bigger than them!