Anorak News | White Elephants On Parade

White Elephants On Parade

by | 8th, November 2004

‘BRITONS, tourists and historians who want to see the fabled white elephant of Greenwich still can.

‘Abandon hope all ye who enter here’

But finding a ticket to go inside the Millennium Dome, as this beast is known, is a job fit for Hans Blix and his team of UN weapons inspectors.

So exclusive is the Dome that now the only people permitted to enter its billowy gilded halls are Peter Mandelson, a cleaner called Joyce and members of English Partnerships, the quango which now runs the tent.

The rest of us can only imagine what wonders lie within, things which, the Times says, will have cost £33m to keep in full working order by the middle of 2007.

At that moment, developers will release the unicorns and turn the site into a casino, a camping village for boy scouts…or they’ll just untie the guy ropes on one dark night when no-one’s looking and let the entire thing be taken away on a gust of wind.

Just don’t bother taking it to Wales, because, as the Telegraph says, the Welsh have just put the finishing gloss on what looks a lot like their own white elephant.

This one’s called the Wales Millennium Centre. Like the Millennium Done, the WMC was part-funded by the lottery and the taxpayer and was designed to celebrate the last – and the next – 1,000 years.

As with the Dome, it will be expensive to run, costing Government-run Welsh agencies £2m a year in costs.

But unlike the Dome, this latest edifice to some sort of 1,000-year architectural reich didn’t open on millennium eve, but will be officially given to the people on November 28 this year when the Queen will cut the ribbon.

And there’s a picture in the paper of the £106m building intended as a symbol of national pride, which sits on the lip of Cardiff Bay.

And how can the Welsh fail to be anything but proud, especially by the building’s showpiece, the Donald Gordon Theatre, so named after a South African who made his fortune in shopping malls.

Gordon, who has no Welsh roots, was inspired to donate £10m to complete the building after watching 150 Welsh soldiers defend Rorke’s Drift in the film Zulu.

And then there is the inscription that hangs etched in the stonework above the building’s front.

It’s a mixture of English and Welsh words. The English words say: “In these stones horizons sing.” And the Welsh ones say: “Creating truth like glass from inspiration’s furnace.”

All very uplifting. In fact, you can imagine such fine lyrics being set to music. Send for the trumpets. Send for the elephants…’

Posted: 8th, November 2004 | In: Uncategorized Comment | TrackBack | Permalink