The Third Leader: False impressions

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The Independent Online

Art and Morality have never been easy companions. How many great works would be without the recognition they deserve if the judgement took into account the character of their creator? The list is lengthy, of course, from Nero's violin virtuosity to Vivaldi to Caravaggio to Sinatra; and those are merely ones with dodgy Italian connections.

And how widely should we cast our qualms? To the possessors of Art? Let me put it another way: would you feel more aggrieved by an art theft at the home of, say, Sir David Attenborough, Mr Alan Bennett or Dame Judi Dench than one at, say, the home of Sir Mark Thatcher, Mr Mad Frankie Fraser or Lord Archer?

I ask because thieves have stolen two statues from the garden of The Old Vicarage, Grantchester, home of Lord Archer and formerly of Rupert Brooke (the church clock, it is understood, stood at between 6.15 pm and 7.15 pm on Tuesday).

And is it more heinous if the statues are to be melted down and sold as scrap? A touch easier, that one, perhaps, although I fear the indications are not good, as the thieves chose life-size bronzes of a naked shepherd with four sheep, and one of a girl similarly unattired doing a handstand, while ignoring a stone likeness of Lord Archer smiling.

Again, when the shepherd was unveiled, I note, Lady Archer was allegedly shocked by the size of its penis. This was subsequently reduced, another judgement her ladyship might now have cause to regret, as such an eye-catching distinction could easily assist its retrieval. Much to ponder, then, while you keep your eyes open.