Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Up in Smoke

Barnsley, 2010. A 40' effigy of an obese teenager eating a burger 'will form part of the mayor’s parade and summer gala in July before finally being set alight to symbolise ‘the shedding of unhealthy elements of our lifestyles’.'

Having been out of circulation for a while, I returned to find this astounding story courtesy of JuliaM. It took a subsequent appearance at Counting Cats to reassure me it wasn't a belatedly discovered April Fool and I'm still not 100% convinced.

Still, if it is a hoax, then someone's put a whole lot of work into it. I had a look at the elaborate website of the theatre company involved - always nice to see where your Arts Council-allocated money's going - and found a precedent in their piece to celebrate the millenium.

It was entitled 'Bus of Fools' - somewhat appropriately, perhaps - and consisted of a 30' effigy of a brightly-painted double-decker bus with characters from Viz magazine bursting out of the top. The whole thing was set on fire at midnight, to the accompaniment of a firework display.

The 'spectacular event' took place in the centre of Newcastle and was commissioned by Newcastle City Council. Remember them? They're the ones who took a certain Davendar Kumar Ghai to court at the taxpayers' expense over his proposed funeral arrangements.

Regular readers will recall that the gentleman in question has now won the right to be cremated in a remote spot in the open air in accordance with his religious beliefs after Newcastle City Council refused permission, employing government lawyers to brand the practice 'abhorrent'.

Leaving aside the aesthetic shortcomings of the Viz effigy (the word 'abhorrent' springs inevitably to mind), we are inclined to think that its combustion must surely have released far more in the nature of inorganic pollutants and environmentally harmful substances than will - in due course - the cremation of Mr Ghai.


  1. It's a shame for them that this story made the papers just a day before the news that all the money wasted on five-a-day has resulted in fewer fruit and vegetables being eaten, isn't it?

  2. JuliaM - Water off a duck's back, I should think.

    I suspect that in the world of the Fit for the Future Co-ordinator for NHS Barnsley and her ilk there is Soviet-style logic at work; the success of a project being measured by the amount of money allocated to it rather than by the outcome.