According to Irish folklore, this majestic Isle upon which we reside was formed thanks to the Tarantino character Finn McCool. Embroiled in a presumably Michael Bay directed fu*k off battle, Finn hurled a sizeable mound of earth into the sea, missing his target. McCool was aiming for a treacherous Scottish Giant (played by Robbie Coltrane) and whilst he may have been a terrible giant slayer, clearly he excelled in the admittedly niche’ art of unintentional Island creation.
Whilst that fantastical backstory is unlikely to make it onto the latest episode of Coast, you cannot deny that Giants are – in the most literal sense of the word – awesome. In a list of all-time favourite giants who would you plump for?
Pros: Upbeat. Eats healthily.
Cons: Corn-induced flatulence. Possible brother of Hulk – anger concerns.
Pros: Drank 140 beers a day so top notch bantz.
Pros: Lovely fella you could bring home to the in-laws.
Pros: Handy hipster.
Cons: Loves his Ox. Possible bestial issues.
Pros: Gets sh*t done.
Cons: Seems to hate the Japanese. Could well be racist.
Pros: Solid Twitter game. Funky shapes.
Cons: So puny a midge’s whisper would blow him asunder.
This is, of course, forgetting one vertically gifted fella from Sulby. A man whose mystique was only eclipsed by his ability to ruin a cinema-viewing: Arthur Caley – The Manx Giant.
Fortunately for Arthur, he existed in a pre-Snapchat age: a time when you could get your massive giant ding-a-ling out and not worry about the repercussions; a time when you could fake your own death in France or better still, a time where you could claim you were a Colonel in the Mexican militia. The world then was one vast, unknowable terrain and this Sulby lad planned to conquer as much of it, like any self-respecting bas*arding giant should do.
Bored of waiting for the Ginger Pub to exist, Arthur fuc*ed off out of Sulby and headed to Paris. He was reportedly a popular figure in the salons – then a kind of open-forum style place for debate and discussion, like a wanky Loose Women with more baguettes – but Caley sought more. Brilliantly, in 1852 he reportedly faked his own death. His poor Mum received a letter informing her as such too.
Bloody hell, Arthur. You must have needed that cash.
Still, it turned out to be a good call. Off to New York he went and he then joined the Barnum and Bailey’s Travelling Circus. Joining the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’, Caley found himself paraded along with other now almost mythical characters such as General Tom Thumb, Commodore Nutt and Anna Swan. Whilst, ethically, it was obviously on the dicey side, these dudes were the bona-fide celebrities of their day. A master of his own mythology, Caley dropped the yessir act and came up with a few belting aliases. ‘Colonel Routh Goshen’ was a common one along with ‘The Arabian Giant’ and ‘The Palestine Giant’. The latter two are undeniably strong wrestling names but somewhat compromised in this day and age by political turmoil. Plus, with a thick Manx brogue, we can only assume the big guy remained mute.
Standing at 7 ft 11 inches tall and weighing in at somewhere between 400-600lbs, this burly behemoth was the king of self-publicity. In many ways, his fantastical tales were a precursor to the lyrca-clad, muscle-bound, panto-on-roids lamefest that is WWE. His backstory claimed he was Palestinian, of Hebrew AND Turkish descent who then embarked upon a decorated and colourful military career. The Colonel Routh Goshen fought valiantly in the Cremean war, he puzzlingly went on to aid the resurgence in their fight for Italian independence and then, obviously, the big lad chipped in with a bit of Monarchy toppling in Mexico. It would take years for anyone to clock that he was as Manx as the hills and had been messing with everyone for all his life. Legend.
I recently watched an excellently produced and surprisingly poignant documentary on the former wrestler – and Princess Bride alumni – Andre’ the Giant. His was a life which gave joy to so many but at a high price: A loss of freedom, continual, agonising pain and all in all, a compromised existence. Now, it’s easy to say without the benefit of footage or much in the way of evidence, but from the outside looking in, it appears to me that Arthur Caley had a fuc*ing blast. This dude gave zero fuc*s and just bloody well loved being a giant! He marvelled at his magnificence, he embraced it, ran with it and mythologised his own legacy. He was an otherworldly being, a folklore tale brought to life, who actually existed in our world for a time. As time passes, so too do the lines between mythical and tangible and, with each tall-tale that is told, such mythology grows in stature; it itself a giant, a fantastical fable of the man whose arms were the thickness of saplings and whose fist was stronger than that of the mighty Thor.
The Big Fella retired in Middlebush – which is American for medium vagina – and gained the nickname Middlebush Giant. Which is American for Massive Fanny. On his deathbed, the Colonel confessed to his Pastor about his origins but still maintained his clandestine secrecy otherwise. Fearful of his geek fanbase getting a bit too intense and digging up his massive dead corpse, the Giant kept his burial plot top secret. There he lies, in a coffin sized 8 feet by 4 inches, leaving a legacy so fantastical its barely believable, and a history so interspersed with mythology that he is canonised forevermore.