The R.A.M's Columns: The Fourth Plinth Project | Teen Ink

The R.A.M's Columns: The Fourth Plinth Project

June 1, 2021
By RichardAlanMorris GOLD, Ventnor, New Jersey
RichardAlanMorris GOLD, Ventnor, New Jersey
12 articles 0 photos 1 comment

It is time for international news. Yippee. It's time once again for the great and the good to pull on their silly jackets and their mad bow ties and decide what piece of ridiculous art should be erected. The government announced that they will make a new project for London's Trafalgar Square, but this time, the Fourth Plinth. One of the leading contenders is said to be a recreation of an abandoned grain silo built by east European architects in Ghana in the 1960s. And why would we want such a thing in the middle of Britain's capital? No idea, I'm afraid. So what about Bumpman? This wartylooking man, sitting on a log, was inspired, says the artist, by 16th-century Wundergestalten pamphlets, which recorded medical anomalies, and he may be a spirit from German folklore. Again, I have no clue what this has to do with Britain. Except that I wish another German tradition could be reinstated briefly to rid us of it. There isn't a single option that makes any sense. One, for example, features an umbrella stand and a nan bread. But this, it seems, is the whole point of the scheme. To make people like me froth at the mouth and wonder out loud why we can't have a permanent statue of Isambard Kingdom Brunel up there. Or maybe Frank Whittle. He didn't have any slaves, his jet engine made all our lives better and he was only 5 feet tall, so the sculpture wouldn't need much bronze. At the very least, could there not be one shortlisted entry that isn't from the Corbyn Kumbaya playlist? Margaret Thatcher, perhaps, with a handbag made out of General Galtieri's scrotal sack. Or Hitler in a Jeep. Why does it always have to be so earnest? The problem is that people think art is permanent. The stuff we know about the Mona Lisa and Turner's train and Constable's hay wain hangs in galleries, and as we sit there, in reverential silence, pretending to be impressed by the brushwork, we have a sense that it will continue to hang there for ever. The thing is, though, that most art is not permanent at all. It's reckoned, for example, that more photographs will be taken in the world today than were taken in the first hundred years of photography. We all snap away at clouds and rainbows and dogs, creating what we consider to be artistic, and then one day we lose our phone and it's all gone. I have pictures of my mum and dad in the family tree, and in a frame on the linen chest. Whereas I think I'm right in saying that the only pictures my siblings have of me were left on a Tube train after a big night out. Or they fell into a nightclub lavatory. Eventually, cloud or no cloud, every photograph taken on an iPhone will be lost. For ever.

It's the same story with paintings. Think about all that "art" you see hanging on the walls of tearooms in Devon or the stuff that blots the railings on London's Bayswater Road every Sunday morning. It'll all end up one day with the fridge-door finger paintings your kids did when they were four. In the skip. I recall pictures that hung on the walls of my parents' house and I have no idea where they are now. Maybe one will emerge in 50 years on Antiques Roadshow, so the producers have the chance to tell some hopeful in a bad jumper that their prized possession is worthless, but I guess the rest somehow ended up being used to light fires. Of course, we have it in our minds that we always preserve great architecture such as the Parthenon and the White House and the leaning tower of Pisa. But we don't, or there'd still be a lighthouse in Alexandria, a temple of Artemis at Ephesus, a city called Troy and Chernobyl. When the Normans built a castle, they built it to last. We know that. Except we don't, because of the 500 they erected, only 90 remain. The rest have vanished. So what about the art that has stood over the past 20-odd years on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square? The pregnant woman with no limbs? A blue chicken? The ship in a bottle? Whitty in a suit? Well, most of it is now sitting in Gola League museums around the world, being ignored by parties of schoolchildren, and soon it will be moved into underground storage facilities, where it will become a breeding ground for mildew. Great art, fantastic art, brilliant art, (such as the Athena tennis girl) that will survive. But well over 99 percent of what the world's artists are creating now will be nothing more than a smudge on the internet by 2050. Unless there's been some kind of nuclear EMP war by then, in which case it won't even be that. This is why we really shouldn't bother getting our knickers in a twist over the Fourth Plinth debate. Sure, one of the entries is a Mesoamerican skull rack featuring the faces of 850 prostitudes, which is very annoying, and I don't wish to meet its creator, ever. But in the big scheme of things it doesn't matter. Because one day, whether it wins the slot or not, it'll not even be a toenail in the footnote of history. In fact, you can even use the shortlist of artists as a way to cheer yourself up, because it gives us an insight into what's happening in the leftie, vegan heads of the politically correct. We think they are dangerous and influential, but when they are asked to create their best work, what they come up with is a warty man, some nan bread, a grain silo and a load of ladyboys. Which suggests to me that "woke" is just a modern word for "mad". Don't froth, then, about the Fourth Plinth and the idiocy that will go up there next. Take your children to London and encourage them to laugh at it. Because it has all the permanence of an ice cream on a summer's day.

Vegans at Mcdonald's

Earlier this week, some vegetablists blockaded a McDonald’s distribution centre in Chicago. They say they want the company to become fully vegan by 2025. Which is a bit like blockading Ford’s HQ until they agree to stop making cars and produce lettuces instead. A Big Mac has meat in it. The end. I went to a restaurant in New York to see if I could tell the difference between something called an “impossible burger”, which was made from God knows what, and the real thing. And it was easy. The real burger was delicious. The other one made me gasp. It was like eating the sludge at the bottom of a can of diesel. So if McDonald’s were to stop selling burgers, they’d lose all their customers and go out of business. And if that happened, what would we do the next time we had a hangover? Because a cucumber sure as heck won’t cure it, whereas a Maccy D will. I don’t mind if people want to eat nothing but seeds and weeds. If they want to produce farts that can kill a fully grown man at 300 paces, that’s their lookout.

But why should they insist we all do the same thing? And why do the police stand by for days and let them? If I blocked a road to my neighborhood saying I wouldn’t move until management agreed to replace all the roses and pansies with lamb and pork chops, Plod would have me in a cell in five minutes flat. And the road open five minutes after that. Besides, if we all went vegetarian, it would be extremely bad news for the environment. If we don’t have cows in the fields, then there will be no cow muck, and without that, none of the plants the vegans like so much will grow. Unless, no doubt, we use chemicals instead. Grass-fed cows, and pigs, and sheep, are therefore critical for the health of our soil. Which in turn is critical for the health of our planet. Remember that the next time you sit down for a nice roast on Sunday. In my view you are doing the world a favour. It’s the same as driving around in a Nissan Leaf. Only without the child slavery caused by the Nissan’s batteries. Meanwhile, people should remember that they are often grown in South America, no doubt using water that people need, and then stored in a refrigerated container, and then flown on a jet 5,000 miles to Florida, where they are loaded into a diesel-powered lorry and delivered to your supermarket. Green? Healthy? Don’t make me laugh. And now, if you’ll forgive me, I’m off to have a ham sandwich. Which was created using meat from a woodland pig, bread made with local wheat, and butter from a local cow. This means, in my opinion, my carbon footprint is way smaller than any vegetarian’s. And my breath smells better also.

Where's Our Dunkirk Spirit?

In the late spring of 1940, more than a third of a million pre-U.S allied soldiers of the British Expeditionary Force were lined up on the border between France and Belgium, each with a pocketful of Woodbines and a plan. They'd give Jerry a whiff of Sten and then they'd go home for tea and medals. Instead, they did quite a lot of fleeing and panicking, and when they reached Dunkirk, still fleeing and panicking, it really did look as though virtually the entire army would be captured before the war had even got going. These were grim times, so Winston Churchill sanctioned something called Operation Dynamo, which called for anyone with a boat to sail over the Channel and pick up as many soldiers as they could. We all know what happened next, and we all like to think that in similarly dire circumstances we, as a people, would stiffen our lips, hoist our sails and do exactly the same as our grandads did. But I seriously doubt that. If Churchill made his plea to the nation today, it would be followed by an incredulous-looking Jon Snow on Sky News saying, "Do you know what the public-school-educated drunk is suggesting now?" And then we'd have Diane Abbott saying that the mission would cost eleven and a million and thirty thousand pounds, before we cut to a series of vox pops in which a collection of people in tracksuits made working-class noises about how t' bloody Tories shouldn't have invaded Poland in the first place. I wish I was joking, but you have only to look at the reaction to every single development in the pandemic to see that I'm not. We have a vaccine. That's tremendous news. Let's rush to Los Angeles and employ an army of greased eunuchs to carry the scientists who developed it so quickly through the streets on golden sedan chairs. No, on second thoughts, let's not. Instead, let's wonder if this vaccine will turn us into Stormtroopers or Borg or White Walkers, and then let's break into the lab where it was developed and free the animals it was tested on. Seriously, taking to the pages of social media to complain that the vaccine was tested on stoats is like the people of 1940 taking to the streets of Ramsgate to hurl abuse at the people who went to Dunkirk because their motor launches caused so much climate change.

Then there's the roll-out. We're behind Israel because it has four national health services that compete with one another for patients. But, that said, we are miles ahead of Canada and its province and even Puerto Rico. This country is doing a good job, but will anyone say that? Nope. Instead, all we get is cynics saying: "Ha. You want to inject 14 million people by the spring. Not even Frank Lucas managed to do that many." There was an old lady on the news last week complaining that she'd had to wait in the cold for her jab and there'd been too many steps and ramps in the vaccination centre. I couldn't believe it. Scientists had developed something that would save her life. The workers of the country had paid for it. And all she could do was moan. If I'd been the interviewer, I'd have wheeled her into the river. Which brings me on to Manchester City F.C. Unlike millions of people who are stuck at home, with no job to do and no social life, these soccer fans are allowed to meet up with their mates and do what they love once or twice a week. But when their fixture against Spurs was moved with just two days' notice, they whined like stuck pigs. I'd have pushed them into the river as well. Along with Raheem Sterling. But only because he plays for Manchester City. On the food front, I think his fight is noble and well judged, and I agree that some shameless profiteering is going on. But I am fed up to the back teeth of the whingeing this story unleashed. We live in a country where children from less well-off families are entitled to free lunches when they are at home. Yippee. But instead of celebrating that fact, and concentrating on making sure the food they get is not half an ounce of mould and a dead mouse, I heard a woman on the news the other day demanding that she be given $30 to provide lunch for her child. $30? Where's she going to take him? Applebees?

Another said it was no good providing actual food for her kid and she wanted a voucher instead. Presumably so that she could exchange it at the supermarket for boomers and gangsters. And don't get me started on head teachers, because, as far as I can tell, instead of working out how they will educate their peoples in these troubled times, every single one of them is to be found on the news every night, with his laptop at the wrong angle and a terrible painting in the background, saying that the Senate should buy every child in the land an iPad and that no teacher should have to work again, ever. The fact is that life, for 98% of the population right now, is pretty awful. And for the other 2% it's worse because they've died. I get it. No one wants to sit at home all day. No one wants to wait in the cold for a vaccine and then find that it's been cancelled because the delivery lorry is stuck in the snow. And, yes, we'd all like to go to the Caribbean next month, but we can't. In the olden days, a British person would have dealt with these trials by going outside to help push the stuck vaccine delivery lorry. But not any more. Now, we're more likely to storm out of the tent in a sulk of shuddering shoulders and tears, saying: "I am just going outside and may be some time, and if you don't like it, you can all eff off. And I want a free laptop."

The author's comments:

London's Trafalgar Square should one day be changed.

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