Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Friday, 5 December 2014
Losing your marbles (sorry)
One of the Elgin marbles has just arrived in Russia on 'loan' from the British Museum, and I can't wait for the backlash from Greece.
The B.M.'s policy is to loan anything to anyone who they think stands a good chance of giving it back, but even if Greece promised on the grave of her mother, she still could not afford to 'borrow' it. I don't know why they packed it up and sent it off in secret, because Greece couldn't afford to hijack the plane anyway.
The one big problem with giving the whole lot back to Greece is that it would set a precedent for the rest of the world, and pretty soon the only things left in British museums and galleries would be fakes.
If you wander around the village beneath the Acropolis, there are massive, intricately carved lumps of ancient marble lying about on the streets all over the place - many of them employed as corner stones to stop the wheels of carriages from damaging the buildings.
Modern Egyptians only started to care about their monuments when they realised there was money to be made out of them, but now they really do care, and are trying to halt the damage caused by about 300 years of vandalism and plunder. I don't think they will go as far as to demolish the Great Mosque to replace the white limestone cladding that was torn from the Great Pyramid to build it, though.
The Greeks do have a valid argument that the marbles were allowed to be taken away by the Turks and not them, but I don't know how this relates differently to any other plunder of war or occupation.
Some years ago, I made a disproportionately grand fire-surround for a Welsh Valley-lady whose husband was the butcher in her village - Jones the Meat. At this time of year, coach-loads of Welsh women of a certain age are bussed into Bath to visit the Christmas Market, and this is how this lady ended up in my workshop.
As the fire-surround was being transported to the Valleys, she said, "There. Now I have a little piece of Bath in my own home."
I didn't have the heart to tell her that if she really wanted a little piece of Bath, she would have to pay at least £250,000 for it, and she wouldn't be allowed to take it with her to Wales.