There are three types of person in the world. And I’m the fourth.
Firstly, there are those who are thin. You know them: they’re bastards. No matter what they eat or drink, or how long they spend sprawled on the sofa, they never put on an ounce. You think you want to look like one of them, but then you realise that they’re always, always, always cold.
It’s their own fault though. They live in Northern Europe, on the same latitude as the top half of Canada. If it wasn’t for the jetstream it would be -40° every winter, we’d all be Eskimo, and all those skinny people would die a bitter, freezing, horrible death.
That dripping sound you can hear is my heart bleeding piss for them. Skinny fuckers.
The truth is, we’re supposed to be pale and stodgy. There is no sun here to warm us up, so nature responds by demanding we pile on a couple of stone, and burn a little less coal. Thin people are destroying the environment, the selfish, skinny, gorgeous sods. In fact, they should all be consigned to the South of France, where the sun performs the same role as 4 inches of blubber performs in Hull: keeping your internal organs from freezing.
Even so, the scrawny swine look damn good, and you’re entirely right to hate them. Let’s gather them all up and shoot them. Come on, it’ll be fun; and it won’t take up much space either. We could probably fit every one of them into my living room.
The second type of person is fat. If you’re fat, I apologise for the following, hugely insulting paragraphs. You’ll notice I didn’t apologise to the thin people, but I probably should have. After all, fat people genuinely do have thicker skin, so you should be able to take a little ribbing. But no, you’re all going to be upset. I’m sorry about that. But you should be used to it by now, because the chances are you’ve been pudgy for a very long time.
At some stage, usually around the age of eight, a fat person’s body got used to handling food in a strange, ungodly way: rather than turning all that food into energy and burning it all night, their body decided to turn it into fat and store it in their waist, stomach, arse and thighs, just in case all the food in the world runs out next week. They’re not living in the now, they’re storing everything up for the future. Basically, their brain thinks they’re a camel.
And that’s it for them: they’re doomed. All media is controlled in warm places. That’s just a fact of life. Hollywood is in LA for a reason, and that reason is 40,000° celsius and rises in the East every morning. Even in Britain, the media is in the most southerly large city, because it’s warmer there than in Dundee.
So the media is, naturally, comprised of skinny people who do well in the broiling heat (“broiling heat” is a relative term when applied to London, but I think we can agree it’s generally a bit warmer than Belfast). And the media has decided it hates fat people, because they’re “different”.
Frankly, you fatties might as well all be paedophiles for the number of positive messages about you on TV and in the press. The only hope you have is that you become, as Ricky Gervais sensitively put it, “one of the jolly ones”. But what is there to be jolly about? Every single thing in culture screams that you’re unworthy as a human being, and the message has well and truly sunk in. Lower income, less sex and fewer friends – which I find odd, considering there are more and more fat people every year. Surely some of them want to make friends with another fat person?
The third type is everyone else: neither fat nor thin, just a typical, average, vaguely physically disappointing human being. It’s often hard to put your finger on what’s wrong with you, but something definitely is. You’re just… meh. Maybe you joined a gym, maybe you do a little hill-walking, maybe you work hard in the garden at the weekend. But despite it all, you’re average. And that means invisible.
But me, I’m none of those things. I’m the fourth thing. I’m that other shape that very few people are. I belong in a Victorian circus. I’m just… big.
I’m not tall. I’m not fat. I’m not muscular. It’s just that everything about me is on a scale it shouldn’t be. Actually, scratch that: the one part I’d love to be oversized is actually drearily normal, but the rest is freakish; like Billie Piper’s face.
All the parts of Billie Piper’s face are in the right positions, but every single one of them is vastly out of scale. Her lips belong on someone the size of Hagrid. Her jaw is alarmingly vast and geometrical, like something a dangerously modern architect would put up outside a public building. Her teeth appear to be trying to escape the confines of her mouth so they can search for a new home in a skull 80% bigger than her own. Her eyebrows are like a small wood, and I half expect to see a badger emerge from them.
Don’t get me wrong, I think she’s a lovely-looking girl, and everything about her face works fine. I just don’t understand how it all works fine. It should be deeply disturbing, but it isn’t – at least not until you sit and look at each feature in turn, and then realise that every individual feature seems to be appearing through a magnifying glass.
Well that’s like my whole body. It’s not deformed, it’s just that (almost) no part of it seems to have known when to stop growing.
Let’s start with my head. About a million years ago, when I was in my late teens, I worked part-time at Dunn and Co. Does anyone else remember them? They’re gone now, and if you’re younger than 40 the chances are that all of this is a mystery to you. Dunn’s was a chain of what can only be described as “old man shops”. They were essentially brown in the way everything in the early 70s appeared to be. Walking into Dunn’s was like entering a spectacularly dull episode of The Sweeney, in which nobody growled “you’re nicked, tinkerbell” or drove a transit van in a tight circle, but far too many people wore hats, was strangely static, and was, well, brown.
When I was working there I learned about hats. If you’ve bought a hat for going on holiday (which is just about the only reason most people buy one) it will probably be in sizes S, to XL. But back in Ye Olden Days, when Dunn and Co were still a going concern, hats were measured by the size of the wooden block on which they were created, typically from size 6 3/8 to 7 1/2. That was the normal human range.
But not for me. Oh no. My size was 7 7/8, which is a full 3 sizes bigger than the biggest hat stocked by the UK’s biggest retailer of hats. It’s one of the reasons I won’t accept any compliments – if my head gets any bigger it could reach critical mass and implode into a neutron star. We’re in dangerous territory, so please, no praise.
You’d think having stonking great head wouldn’t be a major problem, and on a day-to-day basis it isn’t. In fact, it’s a positive boon for my lady-friend, who finds the size of my head hilarious, and spends hours walking around it like a curious tourist, pointing at it and taking photos until I reward her by rubbing trifle in her face (no, that’s not a euphamism).
But now and again I hit a problem. Problem number one is glasses, which I’ve worn since I was 5, like a proper little nerd. If your head is normal, you can get practically any pair of specs want. But I’m limited to about 1% of the frames available. Everything else just won’t fit. My head is quite literally 3 inches wider than the average pair of glasses. You know how “funny” it is when you borrow someone’s glasses in the pub, wear them and pull a face? Well it’s even funnier when they slip off your head and over your shoulders.
Problem number two is sport, especially go-karting and riding horses. I don’t do either of them often – once each, in fact. But the main reason I avoid them is that it’s a disaster when they try to find a helmet for me to wear. “It’s fine”, they say, “I’m sure we’ll have a helmet to fit you”. And then I turn up, and they try. And try. And try.
After a few hours they send Olga down into the basement to blow the dust of that thing the Elephant Man once wore, and with a little lubrication and a lot of pulling and tugging they manage to force my head into it. I tend to lose an ear in the process, and there’s often a visit to A&E and an angle-grinder involved in the removal of the helmet, but at least I got to sit on a horse.
My chest is no better. Suits have a thing called a “six-inch drop”, which means the difference between the size of the chest and the size of the waist is 6 inches. If you have a 40 inch chest, you have a 34 inch waist. This is normal. This is how a man’s body works. We’re much more standardised than women.
But not me. Oh no. My chest is 46 inches. And my waist? 34 inches. That’s a half a foot smaller than it should be. That’s ridiculous. It’s not that I’m like some gnarly body-builder, all pectorals and grease and domestic violence. I’ve just got a ribcage that forgot to stop growing.
You know those people who say they’re big-boned, but are really just normal-boned with a lot of lard on top? Yeah, well I’m big-boned.
You know those people who say they’ve got water-retention, but in truth they have beer-and-pizza-retention? Not me. I’m not retaining anything, I’m just subtly deformed in a way that makes everyone think I’m fat.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely fat. I could afford to lose a stone, I’m sure, but I’m not fat fat. I’m just normal English fat: more lardy than I should be, but nothing a couple of weeks avoiding Hobnobs couldn’t fix.
The only people on the planet (as far as I know) who have my “fat but not fat” physique are James Gandolfini and Bob Hoskins. James looks like he’d put you a box, and Bob looks like the box he’d put you in. It’s not fabulous company to find yourself in. Fancy them, do you ladies? Thought not.
So I’m trying to have second thoughts about skinny fuckers and fat people. Yes, there are a lot of drainpipes who could eat a pie or two more, and a lot more wobble-bottoms who could afford to cut out pies completely and have a brisk walk a few times a week. But I know from my own weird body that sometimes nature has a sick sense of humour, and no amount of dieting can change how you look.