How tall are you?
I’m 4ft 1in. It’s due to a condition called achondroplasia, which affects mainly my arms and legs. My body’s a bit more in proportion, whereas some dwarves have really big shoulders…
When did you realise that you were different?
As soon as I could think for myself. I mean, I was the youngest of nine and they were all standard height. I grew up in a village in Nottingham and even though there were a few difficult times, I managed to have a fairly normal childhood.
What’s the worst thing about being a dwarf?
People pointing and staring all the time, everywhere you go. It’s no problem actually being a dwarf; it’s everyone else that has the problem. Every time you go anywhere, someone’ll say “don’t do that, it stunts your growth” or something.
Are people misinformed or just plain cruel?
I guess you don’t see us littl’uns every five minutes, whereas you see lots of disabled people out and about. England is the worst place in the world for people mickey-taking, whereas Europe is a lot more relaxed. The ultimate place is Ireland – they’re fantastic to us over there.
Probably a leprechaun thing. What’s the best thing about being a dwarf?
I enjoy my life. I live on a 50ft narrow boat in the countryside with my dog and I like heading out for a few pints of a night. I work as a performer, entertainer and actor and have done that pretty much all my life. I’ve done stage work, was in Labyrinth with David Bowie and was an Ewok in Return Of The Jedi. Now I do a lot with the Circus Of Horrors.
You said you like a pint. Can you handle booze?
Oh yes, we like our booze, all us dwarves like a nice pint. I can only have a maximum of six pints of ordinary stuff – not Stella or anything strong like that. I’m not bothered about getting drunk.
Are all your mates small?
No, but I’m good mates with a lot of littl’uns. We work for eight weeks of every year together in pantos and we all know each other. There must be about 300 of us on the circuit, although most do it just for the pantomime season. They have proper jobs and have Christmas off to come and work on Snow White. You can tell they work in an office though – they’re scared to death on stage.
Isn’t being employed because of your size demeaning?
No way, I love it. It was a bit embarrassing once – when I was up in Edinburgh with the Circus Of Horrors. I drag this Henry vacuum cleaner across stage with my penis as part of my act, but somebody had stood on the nozzle and split it before the performance one night. It didn’t grip me tight enough. I put some superglue on it to fix it, but instead of allowing the glue 20 minutes to dry, I misread the instructions and… well, you can guess the rest.
I had to go to A&E in a wheelchair and the nurses were all cracking up. They were trying to act professional, but were having a right good laugh. All I was worried about was them breaking the Hoover – I needed it for a performance that night. Thankfully, they were able to look up a solvent on the computer and get it sorted. It was like having a very slow waxing done ‘down there’.
Did you find acting or did acting find you?
I think we found each other. I tried a little bit of factory work making electrical parts for cars, but it wasn’t for me. And besides, no one could get their job done because I used to spend my time entertaining them rather than doing my job.
Do you have a special pantomime dwarf that you play every year?
No, but I play Dopey quite a lot and Sneezy’s alright. I like the characters without many lines so I can do lots of visuals.
Do the dwarves all try to pull Snow White?
We all do, every time, but she’s always claimed. Oh aye, everyone would get in there if they had the chance. I haven’t had any luck, but I have with some of the wardrobe and make-up girls…
Were they normal sized women?
Yeah, pretty much everyone I’ve been out with has been standard size – we’re all the same size lying down, y’see. There’s no problem with that side of things. I’ve only ever been with a dwarf woman once, it went alright but we just didn’t click.
Are you in proportion down there?
People do wonder. I’ve got a big ’un of course. Never had any complaints.
Where do you buy your clothes?
At one time I had to get them specially made, because standard kids’ clothes would all fit wrong. But now because kids are getting fat, I can get them off the peg.
Do people always buy you drinks?
Sometimes they do, but you’ve got to be careful. If you say yes, they can cling onto you, grab your hand, start shaking it and don’t let go. If they’ve had a drink or two they’ll normally ask you all sorts of personal stuff or try and show you off to their mates. As I say, you’ve got to be careful. But then, if I’m sat at a table and someone on the next table starts to chit-chat, I might have a pint with them, yes.
If you are struggling to get onto a seat do you want us to help or do you want to do it yourself?
Leave me to it. You know those bar stools? They come up to my head, but I’ve got a technique. I hate being picked up. No dwarf likes being picked up.
How much money do you make? Do you get benefits?
It depends and I don’t really want to say in case the tax man’s reading! But there’s no dwarf benefit, no. And we can’t get mobility payments because we can walk. The thing is, every journey is almost twice as far for us, we have to make one and a half steps to your one. So if we go to the shops, we can’t park in the disabled spaces, which means we’ve got further to walk. And if we’re carrying carrier bags we have to walk with our arms bent or else we’ll drag our shopping along the ground. It takes a bit of effort.
Does it annoy you that we don’t cater for dwarves by building stuff like cash machines lower down?
No. I’d love it if they’d build ramps up to the top shelves in supermarkets though – everything I want is always on the top shelf. Most of the time I’ll just ask someone to pass it down to me. They’re normally pretty good, though you have to be careful who you ask. Sometimes they can get a bit funny.
Finally, have you come to terms with who you are?
I was about 11 or 12 when I came to terms with it. I used to cry my heart out most days, but when I was 11 I thought, well, there’s not a lot I could do about it. I’ve got friends and they help me out – although I could stick up for myself, mind – so I may as well get on with it. There are a lot of us littl’uns who do get depressed though and even me, sometimes I find life depressing. It’s just when you go out in the world and you get pointed at. All the time. Sometimes you feel like saying “oh for fuck’s sake, so what?”. You can’t carry that anger around with you, though.