Magazine article The Spectator

Better Than a Ride on a Banana

Magazine article The Spectator

Better Than a Ride on a Banana

Article excerpt

A friend of mine once spent a week on a vast luxury yacht cruising the Mediterranean. It was all jolly pleasant, he remembered, except for a strange thing: throughout the entire trip, the only time the shipboard party had experienced what you might call 'fun' was when somebody discovered in a locker some kind of giant inflatable banana which could be towed behind the ship's speedboat while everyone clung on. The yacht was OK, but the inflatable banana was utterly brilliant.

It confirmed a suspicion I have always had about yachts - that there is more joy to be had pootling around a harbour in the tender than there is to be had from crossing an ocean in the ship itself. Self-aggrandisement aside, small boats seem a lot more fun than big ones.

Perhaps the world could be saved a great deal of wasted effort and misdirected ambition if only an independent panel of experts were given the job of ranking all forms of expenditure in order of pleasure delivered per pound spent. In this putative hedonic index, dinghies might score several thousand times higher than yachts. Quad bikes and go-karts would trounce Bugattis.

Owning a cat or dog would beat owning a Renoir. And in first place on this list, just ahead of tea, sex, the rideon lawnmower and the full English breakfast, would be the Syma S107 3-Channel Infrared Controlled Helicopter with Gyroscopic Stability Control (Amazon, £16.18 - colours may vary).

Or possibly the S111G Coastguard helicopter (£21.60) - it's a close call.

Unlike a real helicopter, this one is six inches long and does not fly out of doors. And, unlike a real helicopter, it will not end up bankrupting you or killing half your family in a gruesome heap of wreckage somewhere on the South Downs. In every respect, then, it is far better than a real helicopter. (I flew in the real thing once, in Cape Town, and I can assure you that as a form of transportation it is awful - both noisy and terrifying. …

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