Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Live from Cheltenham?

I'm back from my three-week holiday, and presently getting on top of the inevitable post-holiday chores, such as a mountain of clothes washing. Most of the ironing is yet to come. I don't mind any of this, but it does take up time! But at least I can blog more often again. Getting a good enough Internet connection to publish a post is not always possible when sitting in a damp field out west. And you need the PC at home to get out a post with pictures in it. So many posts need a picture to show what one is talking about.

Here's an example of what I mean. It would be quite beyond my verbal powers to describe the pose being held by this chap, who was doing a 'living statue' thing at Cheltenham, right at the start of my holiday, when I was in the Cotswolds:

As you can see, he's sprayed his face, hands, clothing, small holdall, and bag for tossed coins, with gold paint. I don't know what the design on the mat, which seems to depict the European and American continents, might signify. He is pouring real water from a bottle into a cup - non-stop. All the time, he is holding this very awkward leaning-back pose. So two immediate questions: (1) How is the water being recirculated? And (2) How is he able to lean backwards like that without toppling over, or at least incurring extreme muscle fatigue? These questions were clearly puzzling a lot of other passers-by as well.

Maybe there was a small electric pump under his jacket. But the odd leaning-back stance? A super-strong steel rod up one trouser leg, with a little seat to recline onto? Did the circular mat perhaps conceal the stout base of such a piece of apparatus? But it looks much too thin to hide anything substantial.

It did occur to me that this wasn't a living person at all. But then, if not, what was the point? Nobody would toss coins into that bag if it wasn't somehow a real chappie holding an amazingly difficult pose.

I didn't linger long enough to detect any give-away twitches. I do know that some of these 'living statues' are incredibly 'realistic' as motionless figures, and you would swear they are really made of stone or metal until they move a bit! Such as these stone statues (both of Dante?) I saw at Florence in 2009, which did interact somewhat with the tourists:

Or this man in gold cowboy hat and boots at Covent Garden in London in 2010:

This sort of thing - standing still in a busy pedestrian area to attract attention - appears to be something that only men do. I haven't seen a woman attempt anything like it. It may be that a woman standing alone would feel vulnerable to intimate touching. Nude girls did strike still poses on the stage of the Windmill Theatre in London in the 1930s, but (a) they were out of reach of the audience, and (b) there was safety in numbers. See

The more you consider it, the odder it seems, posing motionless in public. But fascinating all the same. You can't help looking.

It was a sad reflection on Cheltenham that I didn't find anything else that was nearly as interesting. It's supposed to be a genteel kind of town, pleasant to retire to, with jolly good shopping, and I assumed there would be lots of nice architecture, all somewhat on the lines of Bath. But no, it was bland and ordinary and frankly boring. Don't go there, is my tip. Not even for the racing.


  1. I certainly couldn't be a human statue, I am on the go all day.

    Shirley Anne x

  2. I too was lured to Cheltenham a third of a century ago, sounded so grand but turned out to be deathly dull and would be a living death to reside there...

    Numerous female living statues in Barcelona and more inventive and flexible than blokes.

  3. Glad to hear about the Barcelona Girls.

    My main objective in Cheltenham was the Museum and Art Gallery, but it was closed for refurbishment.


  4. My first visit to Cheltenham failed to inspire. However, after my hospital appointment in Gloucester last Monday we had an unsuccessful shopping spree and in desperation drove over to Cheltenham. There we found all we wanted and had a very nice meal too. So, whilst I acknowledge that Cheltenham's Georgian splendour is hard to find, the place does have its qualities. We shall return.


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