Sir Bob Jones

Commentary on issues of the day from the property tycoon, author and former politician

Sir Bob Jones: Roll up, roll up - see the skinny freak

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Eating junk food and sedentary lifestyles have become the new norm, and obesity is commonplace, where it was once freakishly unusual. Photo / Getty Images
Eating junk food and sedentary lifestyles have become the new norm, and obesity is commonplace, where it was once freakishly unusual. Photo / Getty Images

As a boy I was taken to the annual A&P show in Upper Hutt. My mother feigned an interest in farm stock being paraded and insisted I do likewise, she deeming this "educational".

But my attention was focused longingly on the out-of-bounds carnival clamour at the park end, though my mother dismissed it as being for people of low-breeding.

One year, I escaped and ventured into this forbidden wonderland of wickedness. There were dodgems, rides and candyfloss vendors but I was drawn to the freak shows, these stemming from the American circus tradition of accompanying sideshows, which back then no self-respecting circus would be without. Today they're considered tasteless, but more pertinent, the freaks I saw are now the norm.

The two absolute "musts" in those yesteryear freak shows were the fat lady and the tattooed man. I paid my sixpences and gazed awe-struck at a negligee-clad woman who today would be considered almost anorexic, and then at the tattooed man, marvelling at such inane self-abuse.

Who could have guessed that six decades later, the capital's pavements would be widened to cope with the hordes of heaving beasts, emerging mainly from Government offices, each on my estimation, having stripped fighting weights in excess of 300lb. More astonishing, most are in their 20s, this phenomenon being a recent development. And while obesity is not just a female issue, the fact is that the Wellington CBD culprits are mostly female.

A chap like me, being of a delicate and sensitive disposition as readers have doubtless discerned, must now when venturing out be balletically twinkle-toed for fear of being crushed to a pulp. It's like being back in the boxing ring of my youth as I dance and weave avoiding these moving mountains, for once in motion, like super-tankers, they cannot easily stop. Sooner or later someone will be killed.

One of my company's Wellington buildings marks the city's highest pedestrian count. Currently one ground floor shop is vacant, required temporarily for engineering work above. In April I placed a sign in its window announcing that in a fortnight a freak show would occur there at midday. On the day a full window replacement sign declared:

"FREAK SHOW

Today at midday

FREE ENTRY

See the freaks: a slim woman and an untattooed man."

Inside I had seated a scantily clad, pretty young girl of my acquaintance and a young chap in a pair of shorts.

In fact the girl, Elitsa, has double freak credentials. She's Bulgarian-born and I, being a student of such matters and knowing Bulgaria, can assure readers that pretty girls are not conspicuous there.

First in were three old ladies declaring they were looking forward to this event. It did not live up to expectations, they dismissing it as, "more of this installation art rubbish".

Thereafter came a steady flow of young blokes hitting on Elitsa and indignant heaving horrors (we had the double doors open) who abused her for "letting down the sisterhood".

All of this is alien to Auckland CBD occupants, as they lack city government offices for mammoth supply and also, because downtown is crowded with stunning Chinese beauties, obeying their genetically pre-determined requirement of non-stop frock and shoe purchasing.

There's a current vogue of claiming these grotesques are victims of their genes. It's nonsense. Everyone over 50 will tell you they can remember the name of the one fat kid at school, so rare were they.

This extraordinary obesity outbreak of latter years, unprecedented in human history, is not peculiar to New Zealand. America, Australia and Britain are also weighed down by this heavy problem, although nowhere else.

Indeed an English professor last week claimed that American obesity alone equates in resource consumption to an extra billion people.

But can you imagine a dumber government action than that now proposed in England, namely to criminalise mocking the obese, in line with racial and sexual discrimination laws?

These human hippos are self made and ridicule may inspire them to unmake their degrading situation. It's not hard. Just stop stuffing yourself with rubbish. Recently, the front page of the Wellington newspaper bore a large photo of a superbly built young Maori man in a pair of shorts. I assumed a new All Black, but not so. For alongside was a smaller photo of a lard mountain, only the eyes making this blob discernibly human. It transpired this was the fighting fit, lithe young bloke in the main photo, one year earlier. He's 22, now a university student and in his own words, "living life to the full".

A year back, filled with self-pity, he sat at home all day. How did he do it? "I stopped eating KFC, the weight fell off and exercise did the rest."


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- NZ Herald

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