Anorak News | Stone Broke

Stone Broke

by | 25th, August 2005

‘SUMMER time and the papers have it easy. In the Mail, two puppies have fallen down a cliff and neighbours have gone to “war” over a clematis.

Ken Livingstone

But hush little Mail readers, don’t you cry, the young English Springer Spaniels, Ben and Toby, have been rescued. And the only casualty in the war of the clematis is Nigel and Penelope Pratt’s plant, which was hacked at by Jeanne Wilding, who said it had grown over her letter box. And the courts have dealt with her.

This is stock stuff, to while away those lazy summer days in Fleet Street, stories that are as much a part of the British summer as the Red Arrows, hayfever and topless stunnas.

But there is something newsy in the Sun, and it’s a happening big enough to make it onto the paper’s celebrated front page.

“OFF THEIR ROCKERS,” screams the headline, as we read of an “insult to the 7/7 victims” treated on the wards of University College Hospital, London.

This sounds bad. And we wonder what form this insult takes. Is London mayor Ken Livingstone to tour the hospital? Has a wing been named after George Galloway? Are patients being asked for their views on British foreign policy before being treated?

No, the shocking news is that the hospital has spent £70,000 on a “giant pebble” to decorate its front entrance.

The six-ton hunk of granite is said by the hospital to enhance the “healing environment” of the building.

The artist behind the huge polished stone, one John Aiken, says in the Mail: “Symbolically, the monument could represent the history and development of the Hospital Trust and its diverse parts fused into a cohesive whole.”

That it could. But to the Sun it’s the “ROCKY HORROR SHOW”. It’s £70,000 that a could have funded three nurses for a year, seven heart bypass operations, 160 courses of breast cancer treatment, 14,000 doses of Viagra or 47 cataract operations.

But while the Express cites critics who say the NHS can ill afford to spend so much cash on what passes for art, and presents a hazard to pedestrians, we wonder how the stone is a slap in the face for victims of the recent terror attack on London?

We search the Sun’s piece and find that the claim is rooted in the opinions of one doctor. She describes the rock, known in the art world as Monolith and Shadow, as an “insult” to those 7/7 victims who are still being treated at the hospital.

This medic is later revealed to be one Suzanne Brownlow, a junior doctor who thinks the stone “outrageous” and “makes a mockery of the NHS”.

She says the money spent on the stone, which came from donations, should have gone to helping patients. The work is “silly”. “It could be seen as an insult to the hardworking doctors there and those injured in the bombings.”

That it could. And the Sun is happy to take that line. But it could just as easily be seen in the way the artist intended, or as a huge doorstop. Or as an easy news story to fill lots of space with.

It all just depends what angle you approach it from…’

Posted: 25th, August 2005 | In: Tabloids Comment | TrackBack | Permalink