Sunday, 26 July 2009

My 50 Cents On Plinths

There are some constants in the world, such as knowing that knee surgery involving a lumber saw is preferable to any film with 50 Cent in a supporting role. Another constant is that all roads lead to this undisclosed borough of North London where those in power eventually come, seeking advice about capital punishment, road safety, public decency, air combat, and the moral conduct of Welsh hill farmers.
Last night, I was sat watching ‘Righteous Kill’, the latest Pacino/De Niro hamfest, with Judy beside me on the sofa doing her Scarface impressions, as she tends to do when watching her favourite actor chew dialogue like a Chihuahua savaging a postman’s all-weather heel. I’ve heard the lines a thousand times before and soon found my mind wandering. It wasn’t long before my slippers did the same, leading me to my den where I found an email waiting to distract me from Judy telling De Niro to ‘say hello to my little friend!’.

The message read:

Dear Richard,

Just read with interest your latest in the Daily Express. I’m currently canvassing opinion about the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square and wondered if you would care to contribute to the consultation process?

Yours, affectionately,


Normally I don’t acknowledge emails from people who read the ‘World’s Greatest Newspaper’ (I’m contractually obliged to call it that). I don’t want fans to read this blog expecting the same level of highbrow analysis, polished prose, and cutting rhetoric as they find over there in the Richard&Judy column, which is actually written by a friend of the family with a sociology degree and time on her hands.

However, I digress...

For Boris , I was happy to make an exception and to write a reply. Since he’s become London’s Mayor, he’s done a fantastic job. I haven’t met a single newt on London’s buses, nor have I been forced to apologise for my great great great grandfather once buying a pot of Robinson’s marmalade and being slightly amused by the label.

And if Boris wanted to sort out the problem of the Fourth Plinth then I was only too happy to lend a hand. It’s a project that clearly needs a new direction and who better to give it that direction than a man who’s not going to skim a few hundred thousand off the National Lottery for coming up with some dumb idea. You get my dumb ideas for nothing and at no cost to you Lotto addicts.

The way I see it: sculpture is in crisis. Chosen by committee and pandering to the excesses of the current liberal hegemony, public art makes no real statement about anything at all. I want to reinvigorate Trafalgar Square with a statue that will say something definite about Britain. I have therefore made a shortlist of subjects for your consideration. I’m pretty confident that you will see that any one of them would warrant a permanent place on the plinth.

Mr. Bronson

I was wasting valuable minutes on Twitter the other night when I received a message from Grange Hill’s Roland. He’s now called Erkan Mustafa but was once the boy who made it fashionable to eat crisps whilst wearing ill fitting blazers during the 1980s. The message brought many happy memories back to me of Trisha Yates, Mrs. McClusky, Zammo and his smack habit. But it occurred to me that there would be no finer candidate for the Fourth Plinth than Mr. Bronson. He had what the nation now lacks: the steely eye looking down on us and ready to crack us behind the ear with a history of the Punic Wars whenever we’re not paying attention in class. Mr. Bronson was the teacher we all feared yet the man who could have saved the country from steering from the straight and narrow. If only we’d appreciated him when he was around, he might not have gone off to found the Third Reich and watch as Indiana Jones skirted around a book burning to reclaim the Grail Diary from Doctor Elsa Schneider.

Sir Jimmy Savile

We’ve had disabilities represented in public art and we’ve had heroes. So isn’t it about time for the nation’s slightly strange bachelors who leave you with an uneasy feeling? Visit any town centre on a Tuesday morning and you’ll see them emerging from the greengrocers with a selection of strangely shaped vegetables in their Lakeland eco-friendly carrier bags. What better way is there of using the plinth than with a statue of Jimmy Savile waving a courgette?

Victoria Pendleton

In my mind, nothing demands a wasteful use of the public’s purse than a statue of an attractive woman wearing Lycra and riding a bicycle.

Roger de Coursey

People remember Nookie Bear but what about the man behind the voice? Is there a single statue in the country that represents our proud tradition of ventriloquists? And what’s novel about this idea is that the statue would have technology allowing it to throw its voice. Imagine Nelson making crude remarks about his column and I think you see the genius behind the idea.

Uncle Dick

I submit my own name, not out of any great belief in my genius (I’m far to humble to mention it more than twice in an essay) but because I believe my genius can make a difference. I would represent the 19 million people in this country who choose not to wear underwear. In addition, my genius speaks to the young and disenfranchised. To young gangstas, I am ’50 Pence’, the rebel who wear denims in semi-formal settings or a casual scarf worn indoors at the height of summer.

Judy Finnigan

Who would represent the approximately 7 million people in this country married to people who choose not to wear underwear. A fine bronze of Judy playing her trombone would be the perfect roost for pigeons.

Jamie Oliver

Unlike the previous proposals, I’m not suggesting we recreate Jamie in bronze. I actually want the real Jamie Oliver up on the plinth, preferably via some ladder or skylift which can be retracted once he’s in place. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I’m taken with the idea. Let’s go with this one and damn the expense. It will be like a David Blaine stunt only without any chance of him whimping out after forty days without food and water. If Damien Hurst had come up with this idea but using the head of a sheep, you’d call him a genius. I expect nothing less.


Anonymous said...

My vote would be Boris Johnson on the plinth in a glass box so we couldn't hear the shit he speaks and watch him run out of oxygen :)

Dame Crusty Gusset said...

Dearest Uncle Dick,

A magnificent choice – if one may say – clearly showing the depth of thought you have put into it.

I am unsure, however, if Sir Jimmy Savile OBE would be appropriate. One suggests the budget available would be spent three times over trying to acquire an accurate crinkled representation of this legend’s glistening shell suit. You would also run the risk of small children – seeing him smoking his cigar – shout out at their mothers, “Look, mum the statue is smoking a jobby!” This I think you will agree would be highly inappropriate for such stunning surroundings.

One has fond memories of Mr de Coursey and particular fond memories of Nookie. I had imagined a combined statue of both; Nookie perched proudly on the top with dear Roger’s hand and forearm entering from behind. However, I dismissed this idea as without animated eyes it may just look like poor Nookie was fixed in a cross-eyed trance and in excruciating pain at Mr de Coursey’s handiwork detras.

As ’50 Pence’, I can tell you that you are worth twice as much as your strutting, rapping counterpart. However, I fear your complexion is just too smooth and youthful, poppet, for such an erection. There would be pigeons landing on your face with a false sense of security and simply sliding to their deaths at the foot of the plinth; not a laughter line or wrinkle for them to cling to.

The figure of your lovely ladywife, Judy, would be stunning and one can just picture the passion in her face as she blows the suggested instrument but really, dear, I think it is unfitting of one so gorgeous to have her bust on display in the middle of a park. In particular, where there is a risk of thousands of feathered beasts relieving their downstairs areas over her natural stunningness.

I fear you must think deeper and harder, poppet!

Love, joy and laughter and happiness ever after,

Crusty x