24 year old Dave McFadden from Glasgow had always been short, as a schoolboy he was bullied and called names such as ‘shortarse’, ‘wee-man’ and ‘oi you, you little twat’. He hoped that once he left school all of that would be over in the adult world, but at only 5’2” the ‘wee-man’ nickname stuck and he was still called it by friends and work colleagues. When Dave was offered a new job in Nottingham 3 years ago he saw an opportunity to put all the cruel jibes behind him and make a fresh start, so jumped at the opportunity.
‘I realised that nobody would know anything about me down there, nobody would know about the nicknames and the cruel school days, I could start over with new colleagues, make new friends and pretend to be tall.’
As soon as Dave arrived for his first day at his new job he mentioned to everybody he was introduced to the problems he encountered as a tall man, and started to work on building a new identity for himself.
‘I completely reinvented myself, these people didn’t know me, they didn’t know anything about me or my past, so they had no reason to suspect I was lying when I told them that I was 6’8”. People started to refer to me as ‘the big fella’ and once when I mentioned to somebody how tall I was they even asked me ‘what’s the weather like up there?’, I loved it.’
Dave kept working hard at reinforcing the impression of himself as being tall, he complained about struggling to find clothes to fit, used public transport instead of buying a car because he claimed not to be able to find one with sufficient leg room, and even used a permanent marker to add a 1 in front of the size 5 inside all of his shoes, just in case anybody saw them and wondered how such a tall man could have such small feet.
‘I enjoyed all the perks that came with being tall, I even applied for a disabled badge when somebody mentioned to me that anybody 6’7” and over qualifies. Whenever I went on holiday I’d tell people what a wonderful time I’d had but claim that the flight was a nightmare for somebody my size, with my knees jammed into the back of the seat in front for several hours.’
After 3 years the constant pressure of keeping up the pretence is getting to Dave, he won’t allow his family to visit in case they meet one of his new friends and inadvertently reveal the truth about his height, and has decided he can no longer live a lie.
‘I don’t want to go back to being ‘wee-man’ but I think it’s time to come clean. I’m just not sure how people are going to take it, I’ve been playing centre for the local basketball team and they’re going to be devastated when they find out the truth.’