Captain Moonlight: National symbols

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The Independent Online
AS YOU know, I'm not normally one for anything continental, but I do rather like the way the French continually update Marianne, the embodiment of the Revolution, whose busted embonpoint enlivens the nation's mairies. Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve have both served as models in the past; a new version featuring Ines de la Fressange, the celebrated beauty, is now being churned out by le tonne. Shouldn't we be doing this with our old symbol? Busts of a new, improved relevant Britannia could reunite the nation, take a lot of heat off the Royal Family, brighten up post offices no end, and, incidentally, spare future sculptors endless grief trying to get the Prince of Wales's ears right. The model? I was swayed by promptings for Lady Olga Maitland, Eve Pollard, Sarah Dunnant, Norma Major, Melanie Phillips, Judith Chalmers, Jeanette Winterson (loved the book, by the way), Barbara Cartland, the Duchess of York, the great Betty Boothroyd, and, of course, Lady Archer. All the others seemed to be weather forecasters. In the end, though, there could be only one choice: for her special combination of toughness and compassion, but, above all, for that hair and those ear-rings, Mrs Bet Gilroy, nee Lynch, mine hoste of the Rover's Return, Coronation Street, Weatherfield.

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