I reported back in December 2008 that Ernie Wise was coming to Morley.
Well, he is here, but not without controversy. On Sunday morning, the statue was lowered into place. There was only a small crowd present as it had only been announced the day before on our local paper’s website. (It is a weekly and there was nothing about it in the Wednesday dead tree version). It was also appalling weather conditions but it gave local Councillor Terry Grayshon the opportunity to take some dramatic photos.
Very quickly though, the Facebook “community” expressed their disappointment. The main view was that it didn’t actually look like Ernie at all and some wondered whether it hadn’t been fixed in its final place as it did seem to lean rather a lot.
Now I haven’t had the opportunity to go and look at it myself yet, but I have seen a number of photos. It seems to be of a lighter stone than the Miner and the Weaver, I’m not certain if this is because it isn’t Morley stone or because it hasn’t had the plastic treatment that Terry & Judith apparently did. The original concept was a pose from the celebrated “Singing in the rain” parody Morecambe & Wise did but the final result is slightly different- he is holding the wrapped up umbrella to his chest and doing a hat tip in the style of the black & white minstrels giving ‘em the old Razzle Dazzle.
Now I suspect that the original concept would have seen Ernie losing his arm and umbrella handle quite quickly to the local scratter element. The siting is a bit tricky- you can’t really see it from the end of the road due to street furniture and it has been put into a flowerbed, presumably to save costs. It is close to Morley’s former theatre, although ironically whilst he is raising his hat to the old place, it is boarded up and neglected.
I did meet Eric and Ernie briefly in the summer of 1976, backstage at Newcastle City Hall. They were waiting to go on, Ernie was calm and collected, whilst Eric was shitting bricks. (He always suffered from terrible stagefright, apparently). I don’t remember much about the show now, but they had the audience eating out of the palm of their hand and Eric jokingly referred to the spotlight beams from our CSIs as like being a rabbit caught in the headlights of an oncoming car.
You can get a flavour of the feelings by reading the facebook thread, which also links through to press articles.
In the meantime, my thanks to PJ for permission to use his photos.
Is this a foretaste of the 2012 Olympics?