Out of Hirst’s view

By Charlotte Hofton

Published on Friday, November 16, 2012 - 11:14


THE VIEW FROM HERE WE should all count our blessings while we may, though sometimes it’s hard to tot up anything beyond a very meagre amount. On particularly bleak days, it’s difficult even to get started on the tally.

If you’re really stuck (possibly because you’re sitting at one of Cllr Giles’s temporary traffic lights, plus you’ve got a nasty sniffle, and the gas bill’s due) you can always reach for one particular blessing to cheer you up.

Every IW resident, whatever their circumstances, should be thankful for the blessing that is Damien Hirst’s unawareness of the charms of our Island.

Mr Hirst is an artist, most famous for doing disgusting things with dead animals and sticking 8,601 diamonds on a platinum cast of an 18th-century skull.

There is no need to take him seriously, as the animals would have been better popped into a tasty pie, and the diamonds would have looked much nicer around somebody’s neck, preferably mine.

Anyway, that’s Damien. It’s difficult to ignore him completely, however, because he’s publicity-mad. His latest stunt is to donate, on a 20-year-loan, one of his own statues to the seaside town of Ilfracombe in North Devon.

Mr Hirst has clearly taken to Ilfracombe. He already owns a restaurant in the town (boeuf a la formaldehyde? Let’s not even think about it), and has now inflicted his ghastly statue on this unfortunate resort.

"Verity" stands 20 metres high and weighs 25 tonnes. A big woman, then. Not just that, she’s heavily pregnant. And naked.

She’s been splayed open to reveal interior parts of her head and body, including her womb and developing foetus. All on show for the next 20 years. Oh, and she’s waving a sword about.

Because it’s Damien, a lot of people are pretending it’s Art-with-a-capital-A. Yet it’s surely ironic that Verity should be seen as Art when there’s a chap called Stephen Gough who doesn’t weight 25 tonnes, isn’t pregnant and certainly doesn’t have his insides on show, but who likes to go around wearing nothing but boots, socks and a hat.

He’s famous as the Naked Rambler and is much nicer and less scary than Verity. He, however, has spent six years in jail for not wearing clothes, while Hirst’s horrid woman is given pride of place in Ilfracombe.

Perhaps the town’s mayor was taught to be polite at all times, even when presented with a socking great woman with bits of her insides on view. "We are very fortunate and very appreciative of the loan," she said when Verity lumbered into town on a huge crane. "I think eventually people will be won over."

Want a bet? Fifteen years after its installation, people still grumble about the Koan at St Mary’s Hospital, and it’s not even pregnant.

We should stop grumbling and thank our lucky stars Damien doesn’t seem to have noticed us. There’s a new drive on to boost our tourist industry, which is all well and good, but let’s not just ask any old person to come here.

Let’s tell Damien Hirst we’re shut and we certainly don’t want any more restaurants, thank you very much. We can’t risk him falling in love with the Island and deciding to give us one of his hideous presents.

We could, though, invite the Naked Rambler over. Don’t you think he’d be a work of art in his own right? The Koan was supposed to light up and twirl, but it never worked properly.

Let’s drape Stephen Gough in lights and get him to twirl around the Island. That would show stupid Damien Hirst what Art is all about.

Hofton for D-G, I predict!

Things are moving so fast at the BBC that by the time this appears, there may be no staff left in the building and I can seize a window of opportunity and get myself appointed as director-general.

I don’t see why I shouldn’t be D-G. George Entwistle’s downfall came because, as he had to admit to John Humphrys in an utterly humiliating interview, he was "out" when he should have been watching telly.

I, on the other hand, am quite prepared to stay in and watch anything they want me to. Newsnight, Blue Peter, the weather forecast, I’ll happily give my opinion on any old prog.

Mr Entwistle was, furthermore, far too embroiled with his colleagues.

They’re all panic-stricken now, having to dig up tweets and e-mails about each other, and trying to remember who did what and whether they ever got in the lift with Jimmy Savile.

I, by contrast, would come with a clean slate. I never met Jimmy Savile, have never been to Wrexham, I don’t know anyone at the BBC, I don’t do Twitter, and, unlike the last D-G, I don’t go out much.

I know how to watch telly, though. Oh yes, I’m made for the job. Bring it on, Humphrys.

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