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Friday, December 25, 2009

The Princess of the Plinth (Part 4-- conclusion)

                    Merry Christmas!

          I hope everyone is having or has had a wonderful Christmas day.  On this day I will be visiting my son in Virginia and then travelling on to beautiful East Tennessee for the remainder of the week.  And now to finish the story of "The Princess of the Plinth".

....continued from yesterday:

 As the weeks progressed, the future seemed to be taking shape for Maxine. The Liverpool Daily Post did a story about Maxine and on the front page there was a picture of her on the plinth. After being invited to a reception at a local gallery, she met others in the arts community and was able to gain an outlet for showing some of her works. She received an offer for a part-time position at the gallery. She also received a stipend to enroll in the arts college. Her dreams were finally becoming realities.

Months later, Beryl and Maxine met for a celebratory evening meal together. Maxine’s busy schedule had kept them apart and they had much to relate to one another. Most of the news was from Maxine since hers was the life that had become so filled of late. Beryl was happy for her friend. Maxine was thankful to have Beryl as her friend even though they would not be seeing as much of each other in the future.

After dinner, Beryl suggested that they pop into a pub for a drink. They went into one of the pubs in their neighborhood. It was a quiet place where time had seemed locked into a past era. Two older gentlemen sitting at the bar watched as the two young women entered and joined them. One of the men wore wire rimmed spectacles and looked quizzically at the women as they sat down. His friend, a stocky man with muttonchops, looked at his friend bemusedly. Then they both looked at the young women

Beryl, ever the outgoing one, nodded and said hello to the men.

The barkeeper took the women’s orders and poured their drinks.

Mr. Muttonchops finally spoke, “Good evening ladies. And what are we celebrating this evening?” He had a friendly glint in his eyes.

“Our good fortunes in life,” answered Beryl. “Things have been turning out really well for us.”

“And how so?” asked the other man.

“For one thing, Maxine’s dreams have come true,” Beryl explained, then added, “She’s an artist.”

Maxine turned slightly and giggled sheepishly into the back of her hand.

The whiskered man perked up. “Is she famous?”

“She was on the Plinth,” Beryl said to the two men beside them.

“The what?” asked the bespectacled man, “You say she rode on a blimp?”

“No, not a blimp—the Plinth!” cried Beryl. Then she further elaborated, “She was on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. She looked just like a princess.”

“Yes, yes—I saw it on the telly, I did. And in the Post. Something to do with art they said. Why she’s a celebrity of sorts,” the whiskered man said with heightened animation. “Barkeep, give the Princess of the Plinth another drink on me and one for her friend too.”

Both men raised their glasses. “To the Plinth,” toasted the whiskered man.

A congenial laughter was shared among the group. Celebrity, Maxine thought to herself. This plinth thing would be remembered for a while, perhaps, to some people. It might be good for a free drink like now or just a tad of recognition—something for conversation. Princess of the Plinth was not who she was, but a part of who she was.

She thought back to her hour on the Plinth, looking about at the buildings, the street, and the people passing below. Some of the people were merely passing by consumed by their own business, while others stood there in Trafalgar Square looking up at her. Maxine imagined herself as one of those stopping to look upward to that person on the top of the Fourth Plinth. The person set out from all the rest, high above them all, and for that moment in time unique among any other in the world. And as she looked up, Maxine saw herself.

The End
            The characters in this story are all imaginary, but the basic event is real.  The event was British artist Antony Gormley's One and the Other project during the summer of 2009.  For 100 days between July 6 and October 14, 2400 people took their turns at one hour each on the empty Fourth Plinth in London's Trafalgar Square.  Each person had the option of doing whatever they wished as long as it was legal.  The event was streamed continously over the internet on the special website devoted to the project. Participants were chosen by a national lottery in which nearly 35,000 had applied.
           Thank you if you have taken the time to read this story.  I'd love to have your take on the story I have presented over the course of this week.  I have not yet taken the time for any final edits or rewrites so please feel free to make any corrections or suggestions you see fit.  The story was written on a whim after I discovered the project and began following it on the internet in mid-August. 
              If you had been chosen to participate in this project,  how might you have spent your time on the plinth?  Were you aware of this project?  If so, did you follow it and what did you think of it?  Do you call this art?  Have you been to Trafalgar Square and seen the Fourth Plinth?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing the story, Lee. It's an intriguing concept, to be sure. I love how things we observe in life set off a spark in our imaginations that leads to story.

    May I make a few comments on the piece? Take my two cents for whatever they're worth, good sir, but here you go:

    1. Were I writing this, I'd raise the stakes for Maxine. Have the time on the plinth be something she needs. Perhaps instead of getting donations, she could sell something she really cares about to get the money to do it.

    2. I'd also think about playing on her sense of inferiority, perhaps have her arrive earlier in Trafalgar square to watch what a few other people do atop the plinth. Maybe she could second guess the whole decision after watching a couple of them.

    3. I wonder if a more pronounced change could occur at the end. Either a Joycean epiphany (a la Dubliners) or a colossal let-down. Either way, I might add some kind of life-adjusting realization at the end.

    Those are just some brief thoughts on the piece. Overall, though, I was interested to see how things turned out, so you succeeded in keeping my attention. Well done, sir.


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