1. Michael Jackson, Craven Cottage
When Mohammed al Fayed sold Fulham Football Club to American businessman Shahid Khan earlier this year, he hoped the controversial and resolutely unloved replica of Jacko would remain in situ. But the lurid, 7′ 6″ figure erected in 2011 was deemed to be, you know, really really bad, and was returned to Al Fayed in September. Fulham FC fans may be forgiven for thinking it had been replaced by a new pitch-based statue of striker Dimitar Berbatov on the six-yard line, but no – he’s the real thing, he just doesn’t move much.
2. Princess Diana and Dodi, Harrods
Mohammed al Fayed has previous when it comes to challenging conventional taste in sculpture.The three-metre-high gold statue of Di and her lover, his son Dodi, installed in 2005 portrayed the deceased couple apparently mocking an unhappy albatross. Now Al Fayed has sold the Knightsbridge department store to Qatari investors, will the Queen of People’s Hearts go the way of the King of Pop and be quietly deposed? Maybe then the real Queen can shop there again…
3. Bomber Harris, Strand
Quite apart from the controversy stirred up when the man behind the strategically superfluous bombing of Dresden was commemorated in bronze in 1992, the actual effigy is remarkable for its stiffness, even for a statue. Hands behind his back, belly thrust forward, and with generously cut trousers draped over his shoes, he looks like a man waiting impatiently in the queue at the deli counter in Sainsbury’s. Or a rather supercilious traffic warden waiting to pounce.
4. Sherlock Holmes, Marylebone Road
The Japanese, Swiss and Scots all erected statues of Holmes before London and we didn’t even get the best one. John Doubleday’s 1999 smoking figure is so solemn it looks like a second pipe has been inserted in the great detective’s behind. But Holmes has reason to be nonplussed – he’s been put on Marylebone Road instead of Baker Street. Elementary? Not really.
5. Mick Jagger, Dartford
Mosey a mile or two down the Thames delta to that city of the blues, Dartford, and you’ll find a sculpture of Rolling Stones mainman Mick Jagger attached to a bench. Cut out of an inch-thick flat sheet of steel, it’s more heavy metal clip-art than statue. The confusion is increased by the adjacent representation of a locally made Vox amplifier and that other warbler from Dartford, the Dartford warbler (a small bird).
6. Ford Capri, Dagenham
What at first glance is a joyrider’s cast-off in the Beacontree council estate (the biggest in Europe!) is in fact an actual-size bronze model of one of London’s most beloved icons — the Ford Capri Mk II. Favoured by TV hardmen Terry McCann in ‘Minder’ and Bodie and Doyle in ‘The Professionals’, the car was built at Ford’s Dagenham plant. The 2011 statue will stir the soul of any Londoner still given to jumping out of vehicles and shouting ‘Oi, you slag!’ at passers by.
7. Oscar Wilde, Charing Cross
Maggie Hambling’s 1998 ‘Conversation with Oscar Wilde’ on Adelaide Street was designed so pedestrians could sit and chat with the curtain-haired Irish libertine as he rose from his sarcophogus. Sadly, it looks like someone has clobbered him with a plate of spaghetti, and the resulting effect of a clown drowning in a coffin full of pasta has failed to attract (sober) company. A bitter irony for the author of: ‘It is better to be beautiful than to be good. But it is better to be good than to be ugly.’
8. Queen Mother, the Mall
This delightful 2009 memorial to the old dear cost £2m and was funded by the sale of commemorative £5 coins for the Queen’s eightieth birthday – it’s handy to have your own mint for this kind of thing. Sadly, the result doesn’t do justice to the muchmissed majestic Methuselah: it looks more like an imaginary portrait of Pauline Quirke playing one of the ugly sisters in ‘Cinderella’, made entirely out of cooking chocolate.
9. Futures trader, Walbrook
Lollipop ladies, nurses, bus drivers, firefighters, paramedics… Yeah, they’re all okay in their way, but
London’s real unsung heroes are our honest, hardworking merchant bankers. Luckily we can pay tribute to these plucky defenders of the values we all hold dear in front of Stephen Melton’s 1997 massive-phoneclutching bronze futures trader in the City – perhaps with a box of eggs.
10. Peter the Great, Deptford
Deptford isn’t immediately synonymous with seventeenthcentury Russia’s dazzling monarch, but the young Tsar spent 1698 in SE8 learning how to build a navy. He was a cruel and tyrannical ruler, so Peter’s many victims might have taken solace from this unlikely 2001 statue which depicts their tormentor as 6′ 8″ tall man with a pinhead, tiny feet and even smaller hands in the company of a squatting dwarf in a massive hat. Or perhaps not.