A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Hooptedoodle #18 - Eric

Michelangelo's "Eric"

By some roundabout route, this short post is inspired (if that is the word) by further thoughts I had on yesterday's piece about provenance, and the general subject of fakes.

My late cousin and I shared a lot of private jokes over the years, most of which were greeted with puzzled stares from outsiders. We played a long-running game called "Not Quite", which kept us in stitches for years.

The theme of the game was things which were not quite successful, or not quite genuine. We started off with "Songs Which Nearly Made It", which included lots of groanworthy items such as "I've Got You Under My Sink", "Two Coins in a Fountain", "Trouble over Bridgwater" and many others. How we larfed. [Bridgwater, by the way, is a town in Somerset, England - it is a mysterious and little-understood characteristic of the British that we view our towns as a source of amusement, which does not mean that we are not proud of them. Whereas in America, for example, it is considered highly acceptable to write enthusiastic, sentimental or romantic songs about Tulsa, Phoenix, Galveston, Chicago, New York et al, in Britain - with the exception of London and (possibly) Glasgow - such mention of local places in songs is guaranteed to cause merriment - "April in Rochdale" was one of my cousin's favourites.]

We moved on from song titles to books, and then to the vast panoply of the world's fakes and magnificent near-misses. Cousin Dave was delighted to learn that Michelangelo's David, in Florence (no, not the one in Sheffield), the most-photographed tourist magnet of them all, is actually a fake. The original is held, sensibly, in a secure location in a museum. Dave thought that it was a little shabby of the authorities not to come clean on this. He felt that they should admit it was a replica or, if that was too uncomfortable, they might claim that the statue in the square was actually David's younger brother, Eric. After a suitable amount of sniggering, we called the statue Eric for ever after.

The point is (or "a possible point might be") that, if countless millions of tourists have queued to photograph, gawp at and pay homage to Eric over the years, then he has a provenance all his own. He is better known, in truth, than his more reclusive brother.

He is one of the truly great Not Quites. Respect.


  1. More of a clone perhaps than a twin? Which raises another question about authenticity, esp when we get to cloning people.

    Now in Japan, the latest pop star is a 3d holograph "who" gives "live" concerts (audience and band are live in the traditional sense. Is it real or ?


    The next step in computer wargaming? 3d holographic armies projected onto the table?

  2. Well I'm not going to leave old Durham Town any time soon, whistling or not.

  3. Clive - yes indeed - Rog Whittaker! By an absolutely astonishing coincidence, the aforementioned Cousin Dave was a great pal, from their time together at the Liverpool Bluecoat and throughout his life, of Brian Knowles, who was Whittaker's pianist for about 30 years. No - I know it's not very interesting, but it is true.

    I'd forgotten about Rog the Dodge - if anyone had mentioned Durham in a musical connection, I'd have thought of the Pink Panther Theme...

    You knew I was going to say that


  4. Ross, in the 2mm world people are already using 3D printers to make little armies.

    It's just for the sake of having and using technology; since it's far cheaper and more genuine to get the real ones from Yorkshire.

    If the Eric is outside in Florence and unlabelled then I can imagine the authorities equivocating about lies of commission being worse than lies by omission.

  5. I finally got to look at that hologram thing. I can see that it's fiendishly clever, but it is also vaguely threatening - I've been trying to reason why. There are advantages - I can see that a virtual girl singer wouldn't need to get paid, and presumably there would be relatively few tantrums, though I am concerned to note that she obviously has some form of digital anorexia.

    I think I'd be more positive about it all if the music wasn't crap. Maybe they could also have a virtual audience and a virtual band, and then not bother switching the machine on?

    The one major comfort is that this is Japan - the whole thing will have gone out fashion by about breakfast time tomorrow.