I bridled. One thing I and my paternal ancestors can NOT be accused of is being half-arsed! We, I'll have you know, have sported some of the finest arses around for many generations (this is the moment to appreciate the earlier innuendo, by the way)! We have never been a rich family - I have traced my paternal line back to the late 17th century with absolutely no sign of wealth or financial achievement - and so we have never possessed slaves or serfs whom we could cuff about the head for making crude remarks about our genetically remarkable buttocks. Alone we have suffered the plight of ever-so-slightly-enhanced derrieres; alone we have run the gauntlet through the centuries of having 'bouncy' bums.
Sure, we sat a little higher on the church pews than other families, certainly our walks had about them a little extra 'something' when viewed from behind, and definitely we suffered more than the majority when it came to finding trousers (or skirts) that fit properly. We bore - and indeed still bear - our genetic inheritance with a quiet dignity, carefully shoe-horning our ample bottoms into our garments despite the fashions of the day.
For the ladies, the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were heaven; voluminous skirts worn by all tended to level the playing field (so to speak), while in contrast, the men struggled with the persistent fashion for tight breeches. Legend has it that it was a long forgotten-by-science ancestor of mine - 'Obidiah the Ruthlessly Practical' as he was long-windedly referred to in the family - who accidentally invented the buttock-otomy when, after consuming one jar of scrumpy too many, he fell arse first (of course) into the rented threshing machine and emerged from the other end a new - and lesser - man.
Despite his entreaties, his peers and descendants declined to hurl themselves into the spinning blades, opting instead to await the availability of anaesthetics for the masses. One of the family's wiser decisions, I can't help feeling.
Salvation of a kind came for the men in the twentieth century with the advent of the generously - cut trouser pulled up to nipple height (and still favoured by older men), but we also suffered our fair share of tragedy when the majority of my male ancestors chose to serve their country by waging war at sea. The consequences of such careless bravery were sadly predictable, which in my view only makes their sacrifice all the more noble; only a few of my uncles, great uncles and several-times-removed cousins survived having their ships torpedoed, the remainder having been found bobbing along arse-upwards and too late to be assisted into a floating position more conducive to breathing.
We are, therefore, a land-adapted breed, a genetic lineage more suited to terra firma and baggy clothes. On the up side, we've always had strong thighs and so we have proved very useful for jobs involving hard labour (or indeed, sitting down for long periods) in the fields and factories of our home country. Anecdotal history has it that my great-great-great uncle Fenton worked for forty years as a treadwheel man, trudging along going nowhere inside a wheel to provide the motive power for the crane. They could have used steam power of course, but unfortunately Uncle Fenton was also a bit thick as well as well endowed in the lower regions, and he never really caught on.
Today I carry my impressive B.T.M with pride. OK, it's in a supermarket cart behind me, but I'm still proud of it. Small children may scramble over it (if I stand still long enough) before realising what it is; it may on occasion have been declared a danger to navigation and I may have to book several seats in all directions when travelling by plane or train, but I am not ashamed.
I am the proud possessor of the family's greatest achievement, and I will say once more, I am NOT half-arsed!.