Back in 2017, I recalled a memory made in the summer of 1976... "In Minneapolis, I went early to the Minnesota State Fair, so early in the day in fact that when I went into the tent to observe The Fattest Man in the World he was still having his lunch - several hamburgers and a massive bowl of french fries. He was huge and blubbery. There was just me and him. He kept on eating and we didn't exchange a word. It was a very strange meeting. He didn't seem to be relishing his food, just masticating like a grazing bull."
I can still picture those moments vividly and they came back to the surface of my mind as I thought about William Bradley - The Yorkshire Giant. Like The Fattest Man, William Bradley also spent time in freak-shows connected with travelling fairs. He became a popular attraction - far more popular than the massive pig that was reared in Sancton near Market Weighton. He became so well-known that he was even presented to King George III who gave him a gold watch.
Bradley broke away from his agent and in his late twenties kept all admission fees to himself. At a shilling a visit, he soon accrued significant wealth - presumably enough money to have a house specially built in his home town with his lofty dimensions in mind.
He died at the age of 33 and ultimately he was buried inside the local church for fear of possible grave robbers outside.
Nowadays, most of us find the idea of human freak shows revolting. We appreciate that it is humane and decent to respect other people's differences and this includes physical differences. It can't have been easy being William Bradley or indeed "The Fattest Man in the World".
Mostly, people cannot help how Nature has made them - be they Siamese twins, bearded ladies, dwarves or hunchbacks. The so-called "freaks" have enough to deal with just coping with the knowledge that they look different from the norm. How much harder that battle must be when you are being mocked, stared at or denied full acknowledgement of your human status, your equality.
Personally, I am a little bit ashamed of myself for paying five dollars to see The Fattest Man in the World. I certainly would not do such a thing today.