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How to Describe a Big Man


You know that feeling. You’re writing a description of someone and you want to convey a sense of the person. John Le Carré did it beautifully in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, when George Smiley quoted Bill Haydon’s letter describing Jim Prideaux.
“He has that heavy quiet that commands. He’s my other half. Between us we’d make one marvellous man. He asks nothing better than to be in my company or that of my wicked, divine friends, and I’m vastly tickled by the compliment. He’s virgin, about eight foot tall, and built by the same firm that did Stonehenge”.
Okay, so perhaps that’s as good as it gets, but you have to try to compose your own version, probably more succinct. I recently used the description “Built like a brick shithouse”, which was shot down in flames by a good friend. So where do I go from there. Well, chance is everything. On the way back from IKEA today I got off the tram at Landsberger Allee, checked the S-Bahn map to find the most convenient way home and noticed that the stop for Treptower Park was just a couple of stations away, so I went and walked through the cool of the trees to the Soviet War Cemetery. War cemeteries are big places, thousands of graves of young men who died in battle. Treptower Park is not the biggest I’ve seen. The American cemetery above Omaha Beach in Normandy contains 9,387 graves. Nevertheless, Treptower Park comes close, with 7,000 graves. But the most imposing aspect of the cemetery is the War Memorial. The focus of the ensemble is a monument by Soviet sculptor Yevgeny Vuchetich: a 12metre tall statue of a Soviet soldier with a sword holding a German child, standing over a broken swastika. According to Marshal of the Soviet Union Vasily Chuikov, the statue commemorates Sergeant Nikolai Masalov, who during the final attack on the centre of Berlin risked his life under heavy German machine-gun fire to rescue a three-year-old German girl whose mother had apparently disappeared. Here is a photo of the memorial. By the way, the little guy in the blue shorts at the foot of the statue  is me.
So, to get back to where I started saying, if you want to describe someone as big, you can use the expression He was built on the Same Lines as a Soviet War Memorial. Everyone will know what you mean.

From → Writing

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