Minister for work and pensions Yvette Cooper and the Rt Hon Ben Bradshaw, Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport, have announced a joint job-creation scheme in which thousands of British job seekers will be tasked with colouring in the nation’s statues.
The initiative is said to have been the brainchild of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who hit upon the idea after giving Michelle Obama and her children a tour of London’s great and good. Although the First Lady was suitably impressed with Britain’s marble and bronze heritage, one of her daughters was heard to remark that London’s most iconic landmarks ‘were okay, for a bunch of boring old statues.’ Brown’s jaw is said to have tightened with indignation and that very evening a way of brightening up Britain was conceived in Downing Street.
Outlining the scheme to journalists gathered in Parliament Square by the statue of Viscount Palmerston, the ministers detailed how effigies across the land will be ‘lovingly attended to by specially trained teams of jobless people, who will paint our country’s heroes in vibrant, yet sympathetic and realistic colour schemes. Not only will this create gainful employment, but it will also bring some colour to our towns and cities in this time of economic hardship.’
The Ministers brushed aside questions about teething troubles during the preliminary stages, following reports of a dearth of laid-off riggers with the necessary climbing skills and safety harness training to ascend Nelson’s column and colour in Napoleon’s nemesis. They also glossed over allegations of incompetence after several litres of coffee-coloured paint arrived at London’s Waterloo Place last night, after project planners mistook the statue of medical pioneer Florence Nightingale for nursing heroine Mary Seacole.
The proposal is not without its critics, who point out the failure of a pilot scheme in Bristol, where the famous bronze equestrian statue of William III by Rysbrack in Queen Square was coloured in two months ago. This project, carried out by a team of redundant steel workers, resulted in a ‘beautifully dynamic statement of royal grandeur,’ in which, according to one art critic, ‘the viewer felt that His Royal Highness would charge off on his steed at any moment.’ However on the evening of it’s unveiling, the statue was found to have been vandalised with spray-paint by local youths who mistook it for a Banksy installation.
Questions have also been raised over the exorbitant cost of the special primer needed to make the paint adhere to the statues. Conservative MPs have hit out against the government’s refusal to reveal exactly how much tax payer’s money has been spent on this undercoat, specially shipped from Indonesia, labelling Gordon Brown’s intransigence a ‘whitewash’.
17th July 2009