Capo di tutti capi

The nipper was brought along to the nurse yesterday for the check-up on his development. Turns out, though it was always fairly obvious to me, that in one area of development in particular, he stands out from the rest of his peer group, and in so doing he takes after his pa.

The size of his head. In physical terms, not in terms of ego.

One of the lessons life has taught me thus far is that there are zero appreciable advantages to having a considerably larger than average bonce. Maybe it is something much coveted by high-divers or circus freaks, but in the world most people inhabit, it serves no useful purpose.

Sometimes people say to me that a big head means a big brain. This has been a matter of speculation for some time among people of a certain scientific inclination, but I suspect a study needs to be done on whether there is a relationship between head size and a tendency to conduct studies on whether there is a relationship between head size and intelligence. My own experience, for what it’s worth, is that head size is no impediment to severe stupidity on occasion.

Not that you could tell, looking at me straight on, that I have a big head. This is because I have a long head, which places me at slightly greater risk from closing lift doors and damage to t-shirt collars. Bert from Sesame Street in a wind-tunnel. A few weeks ago I was at Newgrange, where on entry to the passage grave you have to turn sideways. Even though there were far heftier-of-waist people in front of me who were shuffling through without difficulty, I still had a twinge of worry. I tried consoling myself thinking that neolithic men had bigger heads, but then I realised that they probably hadn’t. I was translating for a couple of Spanish people who spoke not a word of English. They were in in front of me. As the guide started asking everyone to remain calm because the exit was blocked but help was on its way, they’d have had to stay with me as the fire brigade arrived with the Fairy Liquid first, then the chisels, then the angle grinders. How do you say angle grinder in Spanish? Then there were all those who had entered the passage grave before me. They’d be there trapped for several hours. The initial Dionysian euphoria of the orgy would give way to claustrophobia, loathing and disgust, and they’d be pulling rocks from the wall in order to dislodge my head with desperate blows, partly motivated by the frustration at not seeing the simulated solstice due to a total eclipse by my head, eventually reducing the entire structure to ruins. And the headlines: Man’s Head Destroys Eighth Wonder of World, New Eighth Wonder of World Found.

When we were learning about graphs in primary school, we had to do one on head circumference. A big bar chart got drawn on the blackboard, showing the distribution of head circumferences. Most of the children’s heads were concentrated around 57 and 58 centimetres. There were zero children with 59 or 60 centimetres, and then, out on the right, a sliver of a rectangle representing the solitary Mekon. Cue a year of taunts about premature babies. Histogram repeated itself a couple of years later in secondary school, my outlying data point providing plenty of mirth for the assembled pinheads.

No idea how it’s going to affect the young ‘un. To save him momentary humiliation, maybe I’ll make him grow dreadlocks. Or, in the aftermath of a bout of teasing, refer him to that line in If by Rudyard Kipling – ‘if you can keep your head about you…’ That’ll work.

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6 Responses to “Capo di tutti capi”


  1. 1 Kevin August 27, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    To have cranial measurements taken in school sounds a touch untoward to me. Reminds me of a picture in my Leaving Cert history book of a man having his nose measured by an Italian fascist in authority.

    This post should be your About page.

  2. 2 Hugh Green August 27, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    Good idea, and one I’ve just copied. Unfortunately people might think the photo is a fake because my head looks normal-ish.

  3. 3 Kevin August 27, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    Or, worse, that this post is an exercise in fakery. I remain undecided.

  4. 4 Hugh Green August 28, 2008 at 6:33 am

    Yes, but who cares if it’s fake as long as it’s true?

  5. 5 fustar August 31, 2008 at 1:22 am

    You have my sympathy and understanding. I too suffer (if that’s the right word) from long-headedness. When i was a nipper I spent a bit of time in hospital with hepatitis. When I arrived home – very thin and somewhat jaundiced – my siblings greeted me with a cry of “Welcome back ET!” Charming.

    I can never find hats that fit me. I get neck strain when star-gazing.

  6. 6 Hugh Green September 1, 2008 at 7:37 am

    Whoa, that’s harsh. Harsh, but funny. I too have a problem with hats. And motorcycle helmets, which are far more humiliating when it comes to trying them on because either they just don’t go on at all, or you force it on and risk asphyxiating yourself.


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