FOR DECADES, motorists have marvelled at the Cerne Giant, the 180-foot-long chalk etching of a man engraved in the Dorset hills near Cerne Abbas, not least because of its colossal anatomy, particularly impressive in the area of the loins. Now, I can reveal, there is something else to look at. A nose.
'People have become so used to seeing the face without a nose that they have been beguiled into thinking he was created noseless,' says Ivan Smith, a spokesman for the National Trust, which looks after the landmark. 'In fact, the organ - traditionally one of the more obvious parts of the giant, since it sticks up - got eroded away.'
Led by Martin Papworth, the trust's archaeological surveyor for Wessex, a team has rebuilt the nose, raising it nine inches by lifting the turf in the area around it and remodelling it with chalk.
Most historians agree that the ithyphallic giant - thought to be over 2,000 years old - is a fertility symbol. The figure, which carries a club in its right hand while stretching out its left, is probably Hercules, who presumably had a big nose.
ACCORDING to the Department of the Environment, the treatment of patients with cystic fibrosis by gene therapy contravened a European Community directive on the release of genetically engineered organisms into the environment.
With yesterday's announcement of British trials (see page 6), and knowing that the genetically engineered organism is actually Darren Keen, a boy with cystic fibrosis who will be the first to receive the gene therapy, I am pleased to say that the civil servants have decided to waive the ruling.
Which is just as well. The directive requires genetically engineered organisms to be confined within an area of one acre. Darren lives in Hemel Hempstead, but is being treated in West London, at least 24 miles away.
Words worth little
WINDSOR and 19th-century literature seem slightly at odds with each other at the moment. Yesterday, I noted that British Rail had printed 60,000 leaflets advertising its services to Windsor without realising that its plug line for the castle was written by Wordsworth, not Tennyson as advertised.
Now it is the turn of the novelists. The Bronte sisters, according to a placard displayed by 'Pasttimes', a parlour game shop about to open in the town's Peascod Street, were 18th-century writers, as, apparently, was Jane Austen. Austen was born in 1775, its true, but Pride and Prejudice was published in 1813 and Emma in 1815, and she has therefore always been acknowledged as a 19th-century novelist.
But there is no such ambiguity over the Brontes. Charlotte, the eldest sister, was born in 1816. A reader who pointed out the mistakes was told by a shop assistant 'with a very vinegary look' that the desciptions would stand. 'We have to do what we are told,' she said.
THE caring side of the music industry was illustrated by a telephone inquiry to one of Britain's biggest CD stores yesterday. Was Frank Zappa's Yellow Shark on release? 'No, it's now being held back until after he dies.'
ANOTHER advertising story, but this time my sympathies lie with the Financial Times and a difficulty it has encountered with Oxford City Council over one of its slogans, 'Business is Never Black and White'.
Ruling on whether to grant a licence to an FT-sponsored taxi driver who wanted to drive his pink cab in Oxford, a trio of councillors had to decide whether the slogan was potentially racist. 'We have firm guidelines as to advertising,' said a spokesman. 'Our licensing manager was advised that the slogan could be offensive to a section of the community, black or white.'
I'm glad to say that the licence was granted by two votes to one. But if business is never black and white, nor is politics. Compare headlines in yesterday's Financial Times and The Times:
FT 'Portillo hopes for future tax cut'
Times 'Portillo defies Right with tax rise warning'.
A DAY LIKE THIS
26 August 1721 Sir John Vanbrugh, architect, writes to a friend: 'I am going for three or four days again to Castle Howard, where I must Spend a Week or ten days, to do what is necessary there. My Lord Carlisle going on with his Works as usual; by which the Seat is wonderfully improv'd this last Year. Two Years more, tho' they won't compleat all the Building, will so Beautify the Outworks, of Gardens, Park &c, That I think no Place I ever Saw, will dispute with it, for a Delightfull Dwelling in generall, let the Criticks fish out what particular faults they please in the Architecture. Here are Several Gentlemen in these Parts of the World, that are possess'd with the Spirit of Building, And Seem dispos'd to do it, in so good a Manner, that were they to establish here a sort of Board of Works to conduct their Affairs, I do verily believe, they wou'd sooner make Hawksmoor a Commissioner of it, than that excellent Architect, Ripley.'Reuse content