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I nearly dumped you as soon as we met".
(Gulp. What could I have done to so appall Helen that she'd considered bringing our burgeoning romance to such a swift end?)
"I spent the first 24 hours of our relationship thinking: 'Do I really want to go out with a man who's shorter than me?'" she explained.
"But, sweetheart, I soon realised I shouldn't be worrying about something so silly."
Er, thank you, darling. I am 5ft 23/4 inches (don't you dare snatch that extra three-quarters of an inch away from me); Helen is 5ft 4in. It's never seemed to be a problem before, though she did agree to forsake stilettos on our wedding day so that I didn't end up looking like wee Jimmy Krankie in the photos.
It seems, though, that ours is not the only relationship where height is an issue. Last week, the Mail carried fascinating photos of Tom Cruise and his wife Katie Holmes at two film screenings.
Tom is said to be 5ft 7in, and Katie 5ft 9in. But in the first picture, taken at the premiere of his movie Lions For Lambs in Los Angeles, Tom was clearly the taller of the two.
Three days later, at a screening of the film in New York, he was suddenly shorter than his wife.
Before you ask, Katie was wearing similar heels in both pictures, so there's no way her choice of footwear can explain Cruise's mysterious height fluctuation. Yet somehow he'd shed four inches in three days.
So how did that happen? If Tom's fast-disappearing inches had come off his waistline rather than his height, he'd have the whole of Hollywood at his feet. And maybe it's those feet that explain Tom's minor miracle. For what if the famously height-challenged actor had been wearing lifts in his shoes in LA?
Shoe lifts, in case you've not come across them before, are little inserts that can be placed inside shoes in order to lift your heel — and, thereby, your height. A more extreme alternative, the socalled 'elevator shoe', in which the lift is an integral part of the footwear, allows you to boost your height by as much as four inches. Both are impossible to detect from the outside.
I'm the smallest man in my family and was the smallest boy in my primary school until I was eight or nine. Being a teenager in a class where all the girls towered over me was also not much fun. Whatever they say about 'personality' being the most important thing, I soon discovered the appalling truth: girls don't make passes at men who are shortarses.
Now I've passed my shrink-washed genes onto my son.
I've had my fill of being small. I'm fed up with always being the last person at the bar to get served; in a rage at being trampled on during rush-hour train journeys; riled at having to pay the full price for a cinema ticket when I get to see only half the screen. Yes, short men have it tough -- and I want to be taller. Now!
Logging on to the Internet, I find what seems to be the answer to my prayers. At www.stand taller.co.uk, a company called Taller Shoes gets straight to the point. Alongside a cheesy picture of a man stroking his chin -- not the sort of bloke who struggles to get served at his local -- there are 18 styles of elevator shoes, from trainers to formal brogues, that promise to increase your height by up to four inches. Prices range from £49.99 to £99.99. I opt for brown suede moccasins and a pair of black leather ankle boots.
There's nothing to be ashamed of in ordering these height-boosting shoes, of course -- why would there be? But just in case I'd like to keep quiet about it, the website promises: 'All orders are treated in the strictest confidence. All products are sent in plain unmarked packaging.'
When my package arrives, I can't contain my excitement. The shoes are well-made and smart. From the outside, they look like any other pair of shoes, with the soles and heels no deeper than usual.
The secret is inside: the insole is dramatically raised up at the back end of the shoe and tilts down towards the front.
When I slide my feet in, it is as if I am wearing stilettos. I am now a giant among men — a huge 5ft 6in!
One small problem. Though I'm now three inches taller, my trousers are not three inches longer — and they're now too short. (The company doesn't mention on its website that you'll have to replace every pair of trousers you own.)
I stride proudly into the living room and hug my wife. She doesn't notice that the man embracing her is now a giant. She does, however, realise that something is up.
"Vince," she says. "You're looking very slim today." It's not a bad start, I suppose.
I head for London's West End for a night out. Will women treat me any differently?
I ask Rachel, 18, how tall she thinks I am. 'Five foot eight?' she hazards. I am in heaven.
But in the end, I know I need to return to the real world. By now, I am hobbling. There is a blister on my left foot. I need to get my shoes off and go to bed.
And the next morning? I get out my ordinary shoes.
It's not that Helen objected to my height-boosting shoes. In any case, she wants her old husband back.
Swoon. Her reaction makes me wonder: did my new confidence come from my shoes or from within? On reflection, I'm not sure they gave me anything more than might a couple of vodkas and tonic.
On the positive side, it's impossible to tell you are wearing height boosting shoes. No one noticed anything odd, and my extra inches did seem to help me get served (and even admired) in pubs and bars.
But there's no way I can carry on with the charade. My feet won't take the strain. It was intriguing to be given a glance into the giants' world — but this Gulliver knows where his true home is.
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