Finally, a bit of culture
Following my earlier piece of hastily constructed drivel about the plinth project, I’ve not seen much of interest going on up there. Of course unless you’re permanently glued to the webcast then there’s not much chance of that happening anyway… assuming anything of interest *does* happen.
Charlie Brooker seems to have nailed the situation quite succinctly in his recent Guardian column – calling it “Britain’s Got People”, and reinforcing my earlier point about one hour being quite a long time to be in the spotlight. As Brooker notes, Warhol’s observation about “15 minutes of fame” is played out hourly on the plinth, where seemingly even the most well-prepared plinther arrives with something “to do”, and then after about 15-20 minutes of their performance they realise that an hour is an inordinately long time, before resorting to shuffling about, taking photographs, and phoning their mates – the platform of fame turning into a prison of scrutiny.
There’s been a few deviations from this – in week one Pat Purves played morris dancing tunes on his melodeon and welcomed the dawn in… The fact that the morris man was put on at 3am to me casts doubt on the randomness of the “random computer selection”… but that could just be a conspiracy theory evolving. Another recent highlight was when The Stig (apparently) took the plinth – but of course as Stig’s 2 modes of behaviour are driving around like a frigging maniac, or standing still with his arms folded, there wasn’t much likelihood of apologetic shuffling or friend-phoning.
Yes, this is going somewhere. Shut up.
My learned work colleague Steve & I were just returning from an impromptu Quality Control Sampling evening at The Speaker and then The Red Lion the other night, when we thought we’d pop in & see what was going on at The Plinth. From the other side of Trafalgar Square we could see what appeared to be a gyrating blue woman. It seemed only fair & reasonable to go over & pay attention, because – crucially – it was about 40 minutes past the hour, and yet there was gyrating going on! A breaking of the 20 minute barrier!
Upon closer inspection, it appeared that the blue girl was in fact a blue painted girl, not sporting much else.
As you can see, it was a fairly chilly night, so our assumption was that the blue was paint, and not some hypothermic skin hue – certainly explained her keenness to keep dancing in any case. In the spirit of giving you, my dedicated audience, a better picture of what was going on I had the presence of mind to take some video footage. Unfortunately I haven’t figured out how one rotates video 90 degrees, so I apologise if watching the following makes you develop any neck-related discomfort.
Another shortfalling of the plinth becomes obvious at this juncture: you need halfway decent amplification up there for the audience to hear whatever it is you’re hearing, and we didn’t stand a chance of hearing whatever bluegirl was dancing to on her domestic CD player. In fact, having wandered in more than halfway through we were a little puzzled as to what the relevance of the whole thing was to anything in particular.
As the 5 minutes to the hour mark approached she stopped dancing and wrapped up in a towel, as the Cherrypicker of Destiny approached bearing the next plinth candidate.
For that time of weeknight there seemed to be quite a crowd gathered, and the mysterious blue dancer was farewelled to enthusiastic cheer. This may well have stricken terror, or maybe misguided optimism, into the heart & mind of her replacement.
Her replacement – the above bowtied & dinnersuited adolescent – I later discovered was promoting his platform as trying to sing as many songs from Les Miserables as possible over the course of the hour. He wasn’t off to a flying start as we shifted uneasily yet expectantly from side to side, as his amplification system wasn’t working. And so, the sizeable crowd dissipated. Such is the fickle nature of fame.