Monday, March 13, 2006

Winston Churchill: Stress Fractures?

Sir Winston Churchill was an imposing figure in life and even more so in death, it appears. In 1969, after a life size stature sculpted by Oscar Nemon was erected in the Member’s Lobby in the House of Commons (London) Conservative MPs adopted the habit of rubbing the wartime prime minister's left foot on the way in to the Commons chamber for luck.

Bronze is a soft metal and over the years the surface of the foot has been gradually worn away. At first when Oscar Nemon was made aware of the situation he tried to make the surface of the foot less shiny by darkening it down. However the habit was soon picked up by the thousands of Churchill devotees visiting Parliament. Now close inspection has shown the foot has fine fractures and Parliamentary authorities are reported to be concerned.

Liberal and Liberal Democratic admirers have for years stroked the right foot of the statue of Lloyd George, which stands close to Churchill.

Labor politicians and faithful have rubbed the feet of Labor prime minister Clement Attlee on their way to the chamber.

Tory faithful are delighted at the installation in Members' Lobby of a bronze sculpture of Baroness Thatcher but all have been banned from touch it. Fear is the new Scot’s Nats MPs may rub her statue away.

Feet are usually the first piece of a sculpture to be destroyed and a foot is rare find in works from antiquity. A few years ago a Roman foot was unearthed in London which is thought to have been the foot of a God. The foot was in a sandal but to the shock of all thong wearers, the foot as appeared to be wearing a sock. How uncool!

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