Saturday 29 September 2012

The Long Man of Wilmington is a prick


If I went out and broke my bloody back digging out a huge great big long man-shaped trough in a hillside and then filling it with limestone, frankly I'd expect the rozzers to catch me in the act and gently dissuade me from continuing by the means of a swift kick in the knackers. Even if I were able to finish it, I imagine that the National Trust or some other group of beardy people to say outraged things on the breakfast news and fix the damage to their hill - A HILL! - as soon as possible.

However, if I somehow managed to carve a 200-foot tall figure in the side of the hill and no-one kicked me in the spuds or noticed for about a thousand years, this piece of gibbering insanity becomes heritage and art and important. I understand this point of view. Heritage is a very important thing and should be protected.

This is not to say that the Long Man of Wilmington isn't a cunt. Because he is. I'll say it again. The Long Man of Wilmington is a cunt. Always has been and always will be. It hurts me to say it because Sussex Pride Should Never Be Denied. It's a bit of a stinger that the UK's finest county is also home to its lousiest hillside figure.

The Long Man of Wilmington: dreary

The UK, a global leader in heritage after all, only actually has two such human figures. To be honest, that's for the best. If there was shit drawn on every hill they'd start to lose their impact. There's the Long Man of Wilmington in East Sussex and the Cerne Abbas Giant in Dorset.

the Cerne Abbas Giant: hung

And therein lies the problem. Every day, a million conversations about the Long Man of Wilmington run thusly:

"I saw the Long Man of Wilmington yesterday."
"Oh yes?"
"Eh, you could have your eye out on that, eh? eh? Lads? Am I right? Cor."
"Ah no, that's the other one."
"No, the Long Man of Wilmington is the one who just stands there holding two walking sticks."
"Yeah, it's the Cerne Abbas Giant you're thinking of, with the knobbly club and the love truncheon and the face and the nipples and the awesome."
"Yeah. The Long Man of Wilmington is just a cunt."

Global heritage sites shouldn't be this disappointing. It'd be like finding out that the Taj Mahal is made of Lego. I'm clearly not the only person to have felt this way. On the night of 17th June 2010, someone painted a 20-foot high phallus on the Long Man. This is by turns a disgraceful act of vandalism and a desecration of a world-famous historical site but also a brilliant thing to do. Such acts of wanton brazenness should, of course, be frowned-upon and discouraged but when they are just done with the line marker from a sports stadium (as was the case) and no permanent damage was done, we should probably try to retain some sense of perspective and sense of humour about it. Heritage is only worth anything if it helps to shape and inform the present. Plus, it gave a million conversations a moment of blessed respite.

The Long Man of Wilmington, June 2010: like a baby's arm

"I saw the Long Man of Wilmington yesterday."
"Oh yes?"
"Eh, you could have your eye out on that, eh? eh? Lads? Am I right? Cor."
"Yes, some cunt's drawn a massive boner on it."
"God, what a cunt."
"Funny though."
"Shall we go and see it?"

1 comment:

Amerella said...

Sussex is a fuck sight closer than Dorset though.

At my secondary school we had a white horse behind the athletics track. That's how I roll baby.

(The Marlborough one)


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