Lowly At The Top

I see they’re planning a new statue to one of the ‘great and the good’.
This time it’s Jim Callaghan, the former Cardiff MP and British Prime Minister who died in 2005.
During his lifetime, Callaghan was knighted, made a peer and given the Freedom of Cardiff.
He also, of course, received numerous other honours which not even Wikipedia lists for me.
Now, having named a new square after him in the capital, they are planning a statue.
It’s just what us lowly folk need – another boneheaded gesture by the self-serving elite.
And it’s only going to cost us £350,000.
Someone wrote to a newspaper saying it is inappropriate to celebrate a man whose “premiership was overshadowed by a period of economic unrest”. The writer suggested building a monument to George Thomas instead.
But Thomas – sorry, Viscount Tonypandy – it was who, as secretary of state for Wales, led the Labour Party’s heartless response to the Aberfan disaster.
He’d wanted the cost of removing the remaining tips around Aberfan to be met, not by the coal board, or even the taxpayer, but by the charity set up for the victims.
Monumental misjudgement, yes. But monument, no. Anyway, there’s already a statue to Thomas in Tonypandy at which locals can assemble to doff their caps.
Interestingly, the writer also said Thomas never forgot his humble roots. That’s what I love about viscounts. Their humility.
Thomas’ name lives on in a hospice named after him in Cardiff. It helps 1,000 patients every year.
Why not statues to people like them? People fighting awful illnesses. People who don’t get luncheons in their honour, and ridiculous titles before their name.
Why not more to the thousands of Welsh miners who died making Cardiff and South Wales rich? There is plenty honouring the Bute family.Build statues of dock-workers, firemen, carers and housewives, I say. The people who build nations and their histories as surely as the lords and the ladies.

Speaking of tributes, Hollywood is coming to west Wales to make The Best Time of Our Lives, a new film about Dylan Thomas.
Wild child Lindsay Lohan has dropped out so sadly we can’t expect the kind of debauchery which accompanied the filming of Under Milk Wood in Fishguard in the 1970s.
Richard Burton, Peter O’Toole and the others drank the Ship Inn dry.
Anyway, I see they are looking for extras and as my grand-dad hobnobbed with Dylan when he lived in Laugharne I’d like to volunteer.
I just need three props: walking stick, corduroy cap and a black retriever.
Hang on, though, I see star Matthew Rhys gets to romp naked with Keira Knightly and whichever sexpot replaces Lohan.
Maybe, Mr Producer, I can do Dylan. “To begin at the beginning, Organ Morgan. Two pints and a couple of whisky chasers, please.”

::Big Issue, April 30-May 6, 2007

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