RICHARD ORD: How a public pummelling of Plasticine Boris Johnson could soothe a nation

Perhaps the time is right for all public statues to be pulled down and replaced with giant balls of Plasticine.

Wednesday, 24th June 2020, 12:00 am
Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the flesh.

That way, we can all have a go at modelling our flavour of the month.

If you like Boris Johnson’s easing of the two-metre social distancing rule then, as well as leaping in the air and clicking your heels together, you could also knock up an impressive likeness at your nearest Plasticine Statue Station. Maybe have the grinning PM riding atop a magnificent steed with pints of foaming ale in his outstretched arms.

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If, a couple of weeks later, he has to backtrack and stick us into lockdown again, you can return to the Plasticine Statue Station and turn the grin into a sad face, change the magnificent horse into a limpoing donkey and stick the pint pots on his head.

Pummelling the Plasticine, or Boris’s grinning face, will be a fabulous stress reliever, will release the creativity in our community and give us something ‘interesting’ to admire … or mock, depending on your mood that week.

However, I wager that within six months, every plinth would be occupied by a sad shapeless mass that no-one gives a second look. Bit like how most people view statues today.

I say most, because I personally value the public statue.

As a barometer of the vibrancy of a community, the statue is as good a measure as any scribbled graph or colourful pie chart produced by city economists. You just have to count the number of traffic cones that appear on the heads of statues in your community to judge the mood of its inhabitants.

No cones, and it’s a sad state of affairs. Festooned with traffic cones and things are on the up in that neighbourhood.

As lockdown is eased, ignore the government's troubling graphs and stay alert for traffic cones on your nearest statue’s head … the more the merrier.

As an aside, there is no permanent monument to the inventor of Plasticine, North Shields-born William Harbutt. They did try a memorial bench designed to look like Plasticine, but it was so uncomfortable, impractical and painful for people to sit on, that they were forced to remove it from public use. As one wag observed, it m ight as well have been made of Plasticine!