thinking about archaeology

Dressing as pigeons

grotto

If you’re reading this you probably, like me, have seen some of the things people say they might do for their hour on the plinth. These include:

Beg for the NSPCC
Sit in a paddling pool in a gallon of blood
Knit flowers
Read from the Bible
Tell the story of the poll tax riots
Dress up
Make beads in the nude
Dance
Sing Mozart’s Requiem
Release a balloon a minute for charity
Perform her own poems
Take photos
Dress as Britannia
Perform Morris dancing
Act naked
Display his late father’s photo
Dress as Lord Lucan (subject of the performer’s novel)
Dress up as a turd and then a fish
Talk with semaphore flags from a wheelchair
Dress as a pigeon
Play Elvis songs
Power a pink suit with bicycle-generated electricity
Dress as a cow
Celebrate her birthday with cake and champagne
Raise awareness of Lupus
Raise awareness of gorillas
Wear red boxers and shorts in honour of Caravaggio
Dress as a panda displaying her mobile number
Aim for a personal best on a bike travellator
“Perform a monologue all about family life in middle England. Slightly nervous that noone will be able to hear”
Dress as a mushroom
Write a play for the Edinburgh festival
Turn on a bubble machine

I once met someone who was travelling the world with a bubble blowing machine as a work of art; he launched the tour at the top of the Statue of Liberty – and the machine exploded and sprayed its fluid over assembled friends, press and dignitaries. And I liked this optician from Chigwell: “I’ve got no clue what I’m going to do up there, I’m not a performer and I don’t have any natural skills that I can show off, to be honest, as time goes on I am more and more nervous about it, but I won’t be offering anyone any free eye tests!”
I wonder if I’m the only person scheduled to go up there who finds all this a bit weird? None of it seems remotely connected to what I plan to do. Have I got it wrong? Are we hearing from the extroverts, and the quiet ones will come out later? Or is reporting every person who has said “I’m going to save the world, silently”, or “I’ll think of something, I hope”, not what journalism is about?

There is a Facebook group called “I, Plinthian”, for people drawn for the work (it’s a closed group – 102 members as I write – but you can see excerpts here). Reading posts is like entering a vast Rosencrantz and Guildenstern world. One hour on the plinth to be an exhibition of oneself, and then oblivion.

Meanwhile on the way down to Dorset yesterday we stopped off at Stourhead, the Hoare family estate with wonderful 18th and 19th century gardens that eventually became a National Trust property. The photo shows the marble nymph in the grotto (which our daughter spotted across the lake – “I want to go in that castle”). A magic place.

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