Being Modern: Living statues


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You can just imagine the conversation on a blind date. "What do you do, then?" "Me? Oh, I stand up." "No, I meant for a living." "Yes, for a living. I stand up." "Hmm, are you a Beefeater? Do you stand guard over the Crown Jewels? Or are you in retail, standing behind a counter all day? Gosh, I know what that's like. Dull-o-rama, eh? But at least you get to serve people. You must have had some interesting conversations." "No, no. I just stand there. I'm not allowed to talk." "You're not allowed to talk?" "No." "Must be why this is going so thrillingly, then."

Ah, but the life of a living statue isn't all just strike a pose, hold it, hold it, hold it, hold it... For only last year came evidence of a deeper psychology, when motionless wizard Rumen Nedelchev was assaulted by "Invisible King" Dechko Ivanov with a concrete block on London's South Bank. Nedelchev ended up in hospital for three months with a broken skull; Ivanov ended up with a four-and-a-half-year sentence for GBH. And what caused all this? Nedelchev, screamed an incensed Ivanov, had "stolen" his lucrative pitch. Or rather his spot. For standing on.

Because while living statues have been around since medieval times, when they were part of the pageantry that accompanied such events as royal visits, they have become as numerous as rats in recent times, bunging up public thoroughfares with their fixated stares, as tourists (and let's be honest, it's nearly always tourists – which includes us Brits when we're down the Ramblas in Barcelona or on Charles Bridge in Prague) assemble to gawp, take photos and drop pennies in hats.

Yet there really is very rarely anything to see. Other than someone in more make-up than any normal person would ever chance to use in their entire life.

Unless they're a statue with an "act", of course. Then there's something to see: a man dressed up in a dirty Mickey Mouse costume, say, "dancing" to a house beat pumping out of a boombox.

And it's when you see one of those so-called performers that you realise that getting the silent treatment really isn't so bad after all.