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Rhodri Marsden: Size doesn't matter – it's the swagger that counts

Life on Marsden

It was during the course of an otherwise pretty moribund conversation – about the wildly differing attitudes among our social group towards industrial action by teachers – that someone casually mentioned that a friend of mine has a very large penis. I raised an eyebrow, possibly both. "Apparently so," I was told. The size of this man's penis had and continues to have very little if any bearing on my day-to-day activities, but suddenly a lot of things clicked into place.

This man always conducts himself in public with a breezy, nonchalant swagger, and his behaviour now made perfect sense. He clearly derives huge self belief from the fact that, in the event of all human penises being ranked in some kind of publicly displayed league table, he might well rank in the upper tenth percentile. And he's evidently been gloating about this for years. "Blimey," I said, thinking of ways to reverse the conversation out of a groinal cul-de-sac.

Later that evening, my thoughts returned to this potential correlation between penis size and social confidence. To establish some kind of scientific pattern, I really needed more data. But the only other man whose penis size is known to me is my friend [redacted], because he always goes on about having a small one. He regularly mentions it as some kind of disclaimer, perhaps in case we get to find out its size by nefarious means, which is highly unlikely. But he's an ebullient fellow, and frankly I don't trust his false modesty.

He's essentially conducting a long-term marketing campaign to maintain the public perception of his penis size at an artificially low level, so as not to disappoint anyone in the improbable event of his penis ever being exposed. There are parallels to be drawn here with the banking system's manipulation of the Libor rate in 2007-8, but to do so now would be a pathetic attempt to distract from the fact that I'm basically writing a column about penises.

Maybe all men are, subconsciously or otherwise, managing expectation of penis size amongst a community who couldn't care less – whether we're exuding deceptive levels of confidence, driving a Ferrari, walking a pitbull, rapping about big dicks or making self-deprecating comments about tiny willies. It's crazy, because as we're regularly told, size doesn't matter, or does matter, depending on who you're listening to.