I realise that, in covering our summer US trip I somehow failed to mention two unavoidable phenomena in American society; obesity and loneliness. The former was particularly apparent in the stations. The redcaps ferried three sorts of passengers around: the old, those with a lot of luggage, and the obese. The images reminded me of the portrayal of the fat people in the film Wall-E (picture) and I realised that the film must have struck much closer to home in the States. A bigger bang for your bucks is what all Americans expect but, when it comes to food, such a bigger bang means that, well, you get bigger. Soft drinks are sold by the litre in many restaurants (I understand New York’s mayor is trying to put a stop to those outsize portions). There is reverse social stigma in finishing everything and, when you can’t, taking the rest home in the so-called ‘doggy bag’. There is plenty of salad on offer in most ‘eateries’ but also plenty to go with it. There is, more generally, plenty in the land of plenty. The resulting obesity rings false with a country that regularly tops the Olympics medal table. I wonder if this phenomenon has something to do with the loneliness that is also so apparent; food as comfort, especially at home in front of the TV or PC. The late Kurt Vonnegut Jr. once wrote ‘America’s a very lonely society, because it’s so mobile and because it’s a nation of immigrants who don’t have extended families, so there are all these people that, no matter what their trouble is, can only call the police department or the fire department. There’s nobody else to ask for help.’