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What Is Meant By "comfort"?


Thundery wintry showers

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Having scanned through various motoring threads I regularly see the term "comfortable" bandied about. Of course, while it's being used with reference to the comfort of travelling in a car, it can equally apply to a train, bus or boat journey.

When it comes to the actual seating and space, I have no arguments with the traditional definition. The more pleasant to sit in, and the more spacious, the more comfortable.

But it's in ride quality where my definition of "comfort" seems to be distinctly unique. "Comfortable" in that sense usually means "as smooth as possible". I agree that being jolted over potholes and the like is pretty uncomfortable, though if just on a short trip I can derive pleasure from being thrown about as I would be on a rollercoaster.
However, I can genuinely say that I find being gently rocked about [i]more[/i] comfortable than a ride where if I closed my eyes I'd hardly know I was moving. For instance, I find the clickety-clack of the Newcastle to Carlisle trains to be more comfortable than the ultra-smooth Virgin trains. Similarly, if well built, I often find cars with fairly stiff suspensions more comfortable to travel in than travelling in cars with soft suspensions, for much the same reasons. Yes, sometimes I can get out of such a car or train feeling like I'm still rocking about on a boat, but such a sensation is rarely troublesome and doesn't last long- it's not like the sea-sickness after being on a boat in stormy seas.

But in practice it's just taken as given that a car with a stiffer suspension is less comfortable by definition, and thus less pleasurable to travel as a passenger in. Sometimes I really wonder if there's something wrong with me, as my instincts and preferences end up totally at odds with the accepted norm!

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