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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 8 (November 1, 1934)

A Chat About Fat

page 6

A Chat About Fat


Let me have men about me that are fat;

Sleek-headed men, and such as sleep o' nights:

Yond' Cassius has a lean and hungry look;

He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.


Fear him not, Caesar; he's not dangerous;

He is a noble Roman, and well given.


Would he were fatter.

—“Julius Caesar.”

Caesar, lean enough himself (according, to sculptures of his head), was no doubt a good authority on the dangerousness of sinewy men. If Bernard Shaw had written the play he might have made Caesar exclaim: “Let me have men about me that are fit”—but in such an ejaculation he would have run counter to some recent American doctrine on fat. An actuary of the National Surety Company of New York has given a new set of statistics to this too, too tabulated world—figures to show that fat, in the mass, hath more honesty than thinness has.

Unfortunately, I have not the actuary's full report. I have only the remarks of a contributor to the London “Times” on the statistical exaltation of fat, but that critic merely slid merrily over the surface of the subject. Therefore, any thinnish reader who wishes to win more confidence among butchers, bakers, or bankers, is advised to wait for more information before bulging his wrapper.

Meanwhile curiosity as to the relation of fat to honesty or honesty to fat prompts many questions. Is fat the father or the offspring of honesty? Does the fair, square mind precede or follow roundness of the waist? Is all fat the same fat as a source or cause of honesty? Is the fat made by beef and beer better or worse than the fat raised from buns and cocoa?

* * *

Fat is not in fashion at the moment, although plenty of it is about. However, if Science (which is scornfully refusing to take the decade of holiday advised by a peace-loving bishop) proves that there is something in the American actuary's statement, the chronic lean persons, from whom fat slides as butter does from a hot upright plate, will have to organise, and either devise ways and means of discrediting fat or get Science to make them fat by hook or by crook. Then when all persons are fat, they will be starting from scratch again in the competition for credit or overdrafts at the bank.

* * *

If the American accountant's argument is sustained by Science, will convicted thieves be sentenced to hard labour with knives, forks and spoons instead of picks, shovels and wheelbarrows, in accordance with a State scheme for the promotion of honesty?

* * *

Although few persons (except those whose bones are barely clothed) yearn for fat (in moderation) most people have Caesar's alleged liking for an entourage of the fat. Some of the rotund may look unromantic, and others may look comic, but they mostly look comfortable and comforting. There is a popular belief that the cheerful, contented mind is enthroned in a round tower of fat, and that the mound at the waist is as a monument on the grave of rancour and hate. Would the author of a melodrama dare to make his dark villain fat? Yet, alas! in real life there are plenty of fat rogues and bloated
(W. W. Stewart Collection.) After a run of 426 miles. A special meat train from Wellington approaching Auckland.

(W. W. Stewart Collection.)
After a run of 426 miles. A special meat train from Wellington approaching Auckland.

scoundrels. But they may not have the proper fat; it is for Science to say.

* * *

What would Friar Tuck and Falstaff have been without their fat? The cherubic plumpness of Pickwick has helped to endear him to millions of readers. But Dickens did not make all fat lovable. For example, the greasy obesity of Chadband is repulsive. “Mr. Chadband,” it is written, “is a large yellow man with a fat smile and a general appearance of having a good deal of train oil in his system.” Every country has its Pickwicks and Chad-bands (the disgraces of fat).

* * *

In the preceding paragraph the beastly word obesity was used, excusably perhaps. Of course, it is vulgar nowadays to apply the term fat to a human being, particularly to a lady. Advertisements, addressed in genteel phrasing to persons of bulbous build, tell them how “obesity” can be abolished by bottles of liquid or dispersed by packets of powder. Yet, if the word obesity were thrust upon a ripened pig, it would put the public off bacon.

* * *

The present feminine fear of fat, in the British. Empire, would seem very silly to a Moor who likes his women to be palpably plump. If they lack the ideal curves, they feed up until they gain the desired outlines. The men would be pained and horrified by any attempts of their women to slip into slimness, and would regard such elimination of fat as an unholy sacrifice to false gods of beauty (or ugliness). Frenchmen, too—although many of the fashionable Parisiennes are still devoted to the fat slabby styles—have not lost their admiration of embonpoint.

page 7

Another aspect of fat, in the case of business men, is in its symbol of material success. Flabby fat, sloppily clothed, is always grotesque, and may be hideous, but firm, well-formed fat (disciplined by a little golf or bowls), well dressed, and well carried, is usually impressive. Such well-ordered fat puts a man on his feet; it gives him the dignified aplomb of prosperity; in fact, it makes him a man of weight in matters of grave import to the country. Such a man's opinions on anything or anybody cannot be quashed by a mere sneer, sniff, or scoff. Many a man's fat, shrewdly used, has made him a chairman of directors.

Indeed, not many years ago the great majority of young men in the British Empire believed that, no matter what ability they might show to a doubting world, they would not find themselves in full march on the road to prosperity until they were helped by thinness of thatch and thickness of waist.

* * *

Let it be said at once, emphatically, that the term “fat head” is not a slur on fat, as seen in a portly gentleman. “Fat-head” is simply a loose, thoughtless variant of thick-head or blockhead, and is applied indiscriminately to the lean and the corpulent.

Reverting to the New York actuary's discovery of virtue in fat, it is safe to prophesy that his proclamation will not pass unheeded in his country, which gives very serious attention to questions of trustworthiness and efficiency. Some patriotic souls may agitate for a remodelling of the traditional gaunt figure of “Uncle Sam” on the burly basis of “John Bull.” Somebody will write a book with such a title as “How to Make the Best Use of Your Obesity,” and Correspondence Schools may get busy in this field. The outlook for the genuine fat will be bright, if well-qualified Inspectors of Fat are appointed to expose tricky imitations of the real thing. It is another job for Science, which is ever gog-eyed for difficult tasks—the Science which will some day blot out the bugbear of cost of living by acclimatising the bread-fruit tree in all countries, changing sand into sugar and mud into butter, and make us all bigger and better, if not happier.

Non-Stop Run Of 1,015 Miles In 13 Hours 5 Minutes.

Leaving the Union Station at Denver, Colo., at 5.05 a.m. (Mountain Time) on May 26, the “Zepher” new stainless steel, streamlined train of Chicago, Burlington and Quincy, made a non-stop run of 1,015.4 miles to Halsted Street, Chicago, in 13 hrs. 5 mins., or at an average speed of 77.5 miles per hour for the entire distance (states the “Railway Age”). The fuel consumed on the run amounted to 418 gallons, the approximate cost of which was £16.

Not only were innumerable records broken during the course of the run, but also the dependability of the train and of the Burlington track were given a thorough and satisfactory test. The longest previous non-stop run, 401 miles, on the L.M.S. Railway of England, was exceeded more than two and a half times, and all records for average speed for stretches of 200 miles and over were excelled. Among the highlights of the speed records were the following:

Maximum speed attained: 112.5 m.p.h. Yuma, Colo., to Schramm, 6.4 miles, 3 1/2 mins., average speed, 109 m.p.h. Otis, Colo., to Schramm, 19.1 miles, 11 mins., average speed, 106.2 m.p.h. Otis, Colo., to McCook, Nebr., 129.5 miles, 86 mins., average speed 90 m.p.h.

To compensate for the slower speeds through the larger cities, it was necessary to traverse 215.7 miles at an average rate of more than 90 m.p.h., of which 19.1 miles was travelled at more than 100 m.p.h.

(Rly. Publicity Photo.) The Arthur River (Milford Sound District) South Island, New Zealand.

(Rly. Publicity Photo.)
The Arthur River (Milford Sound District) South Island, New Zealand.