Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Storm in a D-cup

I had a problem with my radio script last week. I had a sketch with a punchline that relied on the fact that a Canadian man would think that 40 inches was a large bra size. This got quite a nice laugh at the read-through, but I was never entirely happy with it.

I felt as though on one shoulder I had a slightly lazy writer saying “It got a laugh – it’s in”. But on my other shoulder I had Martin Bryce from Ever Decreasing Circles saying, “That’s illogical – isn’t Canada a metric country? Shouldn’t he be thinking that 101.6cm is a large bra size?”

I sometimes hate my inner Martin Bryce, but he is right, dammit. I have been to Canada, and all their road signs are in kilometres. The lazy writer said it would be OK though. That it was for a British audience, used to bras being measured in inches, that they would laugh and we would then be straight into the next joke. Who would notice? What kind of sad idiot would write in and complain?

But the lazy writer was wrong. I knew that a sad idiot would write in and complain because I am that person. The lazy writer is someone who would write a sketch that depicted dinosaurs with cavemen, despite the fact that dinosaurs died out millions of years before humans evolved. Unless the lazy writer is also a creationist, in which case the dinosaurs all died out about two and half hours before humans were created. But then he is wrong on two counts, though he wouldn't listen to reason at all, and would claim that he was created lazy and so he shouldn't try to change. He is also the sort of person who would think that “Storm in a D-cup” is a good title, but sometimes Martin Bryce lets his guard down.

Every comedian and writer that I have ever admired has at some point said that comedy is truth. I suspect that they were talking more about the integrity of the characters and situations that they create rather than a point of fact about measurement systems, but they are right. Even though this was the linchpin to a huge chunk of the script, and a callback to something that was intricately set up pages earlier it wasn’t true. But I couldn’t change anything about it as the man had to be Canadian, and the number had to be 40.

I was prepared to just cut it all and write something else, but had one last ray of hope. What if, despite being metric, Canadians actually did measure their bras in inches? But how would I find out?

Before the advent of the internet I would have had to have flown to Canada and gone to a lingerie department and asked somebody. This would have been tax deductible for research, but still a bit pricy and inconvenient. So it is a wonderful world that we live in that I can just Google “Canadian bra sizes” and get almost instant help from an expert lingerie retailer. Luckily I am not a pervert who gets his thrills from emailing random women and asking them about bra sizes and has written a whole script based around needing to know this information just so that he can get his weird kicks. No, I am not that man. No.

And the outcome was that whilst the labels show both inches and centimetres, most Canadian women measure their breasts in inches. Hurrah! Except perhaps in Quebec, but that doesn’t matter as I already know that my character is not from Quebec.

And it is an even more wonderful world where I can also Google “bra sizes” with image search accidentally switched on. Even Martin likes that.