Friday, 13 August 2004

A fountain troubled

(The Taming of the Shrew, v, ii.)
The nation-wide hilarity inspired by the Diana Memorial Fiasco – which began with the sight of the Queen’s hat at the opening ceremony – continues. The designer, one Kathryn Gustafson, who originally said “Children will paddle and play, chase and race sticks in the fountain's shallow water", now says that no-one should have taken this seriously, and “it was a mistake when it was opened to think that people should be able to walk or play in it". After three people – including a child – had to be taken to hospital when they slipped on the wet granite and hit their heads, she said they should not have been walking in the fountain in the first place.
There has yet been little discussion of the proposal that her fee should be forfeited and she is keeping a very low profile indeed, though there has yet been no watch on the ports or public appeal for news of her whereabouts. In her place, some youth described as “co-designer” was pushed onto TV today to say it was all down to people’s lack of reverence, and it would have been all right if children had only put their feet in and not paddled; in other words, dipping your feet in = reverence, while paddling = culpable lack of same. The poor fellow will not go far in his career, for he had the grace to look embarrassed while following his instructions to reel off this drivel.
Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell has weighed in with a denunciation of the public’s mistreatment of the memorial, ordering everyone to regard it with more respect and sense of responsibility once the 7-ft barrier is removed.
All this is desperate stuff and will not alter the general perception that this has been a major cock-up and that the lovely Tessa, all those involved in the planning, and the members of the Memorial Committee who voted for this thing should be required to run round the watery channel one thousand times, reverently; a bit of sackcloth and a few ashes would not come amiss, either.

"The concept is based upon the qualities of the Princess that were the most loved and cherished... inclusiveness and accessibility." (Kathryn Gustafson)

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