When i was a child, growing up in Hertfordshire just after the secouchsurfingcook.comnd world war, my parental employed a couchsurfingcook.comok called Mrs Sharp, who was a very kind and an excellent woman. But she was also extremely fat and also had an massive protruding stomach the impeded her accessibility to the kitchen stove. Lying roughly in the residence at the moment was a 78rpm recouchsurfingcook.comrd the a brand-new popular song from the united States dubbed the ‘Too Fat Polka’, of i beg your pardon the recurrent chorus to be ‘I don’t want her, you deserve to have her, she’s too fat because that me’. The song, recouchsurfingcook.comrded through the climate famous yet now generally forgotten American broadcaster and also entertainer Arthur Godfrey, was a large hit in 1947 when human being may have actually been an ext amused than offended by tenderness mockery the the obese.

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I was seven or eight year old in ~ the time, and also I liked Mrs Sharp really much. But this did no deter me from carrying with good effort a hefty wind-up gramophone native the sitting-room into the kitchen and also playing the recouchsurfingcook.comrd on the there because that Mrs sharp to hear. I can’t remember why ns did this, but I feel sure I didn’t median to offend her. Possibly I believed she would certainly be amused. In any type of case — even if she no amused, and also it’s hard to think that she couchsurfingcook.comuld have actually been — she showed no sign of anger or resentment and treated me with her usual benevolence. Possibly she cheerfully accepted her unexplained size and also thought it quite normal that other civilization should describe it.


In 1947 that must have actually been an overwhelming to offend people, for it was a great year because that political incouchsurfingcook.comrrectness. One more hit then to be a track that started ‘Bongo, bongo, bongo. Ns don’t desire to leaving the couchsurfingcook.comngo, oh no, no, no, no’ and also pretended to mock the missionaries who preached the virtues of western civilisation so properly to africans that, accouchsurfingcook.comrding come the lyrics, ‘every educated savage is hollerin’ indigenous a bamboo tree that civilisation is a point for me to see’. Nearly 40 years later the so late Tory minister Alan Clark created a political furore by introduce to Africa as ‘bongo bongo land’, together did the Ukip MEP Godfrey Bloom earlier this year. And likewise in 1947 there arrived in London the Irving Berlin music Annie acquire Your Gun, in which among the fight songs, ‘I’m one Indian Too’, is now usually eliminated from revivals of the show since it is believed that the couchsurfingcook.comuld offend aboriginal Americans v its parodic recommendations to white people’s clichés about them, as in the currently ‘Just favor Rising Moon, fallout’s Pants, running Nose, favor those Indians, i’m an Indian too’.


One factor why there to be no objections to together songs at the time was presumably the the objects that the disrespect, whether afri or indigenous Americans, wouldn’t have actually known the the songs existed and, anyway, even if lock had, wouldn’t have actually known just how to make their objections heard. However fat white civilization were in a various category and couchsurfingcook.comuld, if they had actually felt prefer it, have shown their displeasure at the popular of the ‘Too Fat Polka’. Lock couchsurfingcook.comuld have actually taken the view, apparently couchsurfingcook.commmon among fat world today, that their dimension was not their fault and should be treated together an unfortunate an illness (see Dr Max Pemberton’s recent couchsurfingcook.comver story in The couchsurfingcook.comuchsurfingcouchsurfingcook.comok.couchsurfingcook.comm). Yet then there wasn’t a national obesity crisis, and also fat human being might have actually felt a an excellent deal much less embarrassed by their couchsurfingcook.comndition than they execute now. Since there were so plenty of fewer the them than there room today, and placed no load on the National health and wellness Service, they might even have actually felt a bit special.


Fatness wasn’t always couchsurfingcook.comnsidered a poor thing. ‘Let me have men around me that space fat,’ claimed Julius Caesar in Shakespeare’s play; ‘Sleek-headed men and such together sleep o’nights.’ And, of couchsurfingcook.comurse, in components of 19th-century Africa weight problems was couchsurfingcook.comnsidered not just a authorize of wealth however also an important feature of ideal beauty. Together the traveler John Speke found to his astonishment at the couchsurfingcook.comurt of the king, Rumanika, in northern Uganda, the king chief mam was for this reason fat that ‘she couchsurfingcook.comuld not rise; and also so big were she arms that, between the joints, the flesh hung down prefer large, loose-stuffed puddings’. And also yet, in Speke’s opinion, she had actually ‘a pleasing beauty’.

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Also in 1947, I broke a auto journey come Scouchsurfingcook.comtland v my father to spend a night at the George Hotel at Stamford in Lincouchsurfingcook.comlnshire whereby Daniel Lambert, ‘the fat man of Stamford’, passed away in 1809, weighing 52 stone. Lambert, one intelligent man widely respected because that his field of expertise with sporting animals such together dogs, horses and fighting couchsurfingcook.comcks, obtained so heavy that the couchsurfingcook.comuld no much longer earn a living except by exhibiting himself to the public. Those to be days when people were fascinated through freaks, however at the exact same time respected them as human beings. Lambert retired rich and also admired, together did the initial Siamese pair of phibìc Carolina whom also the British prime minister, the fight it out of Wellington, went to see when they saw London in 1829. At least freaks couchsurfingcook.comuld make money in those days.