September 2nd, 2004

Big Muscles

I never liked Schwarzenegger. I never like Stallone either. The Big Muscles thing always struck me as infantile. I can remember being hooked on big muscles when I was seven or eight. My big muscles hero was Steve Reeves- who played Hercules and similar characters in a series of lets-see-how-much-we-can-get-away-with Italian tits 'n' toga epics c.1960. Once puberty started to kick in, Steve toppled out of my pantheon of love-objects, to be replaced by Audrey Hepburn.

I'm a girlie-man.

Schwarzenegger's performance at the RNC was piss poor. The jokes were crass and predictable and he fluffed the timing. The political content was nil. Mainly he stood there and preened and grinned. He was a receiver. A satellite dish. He was there to gather up the adulation of the hall and transmit it on to George W Bush.

If his skin were any tighter his face would split in two. Or maybe four.

Turing

There's a man sitting on a bench in a Manchester park, just accross the canal from the gay village. The first time I saw him I reckoned there was something not quite right about him. When I got closer I saw he was made of bronze. The effect is creepy.

So it should be. This is the monument to Alan Turing, the father of computing and (by virtue of his work on Axis codes at Bletchley Park) one of the heroes of the Second World War.

Turing was gay. The police harassed him. He avoided prison by agreeing to submit to oestrogen injections. The establishment turned its back on him. He committed suicide aged 42.

He committed suicide in rather a novel way (he was, after all, a genius.) He injected cyanide into an apple, then ate it.

The bronze man is holding an apple in his hand.

A few posts back I said we can't do public sculpture any more. That wasn't entirely true. The Turing monument is a great piece of public sculpture. Mike wanted to see it so I took him there this afternoon. We sat on the bench across from Turing and and he looked at us and we looked at him. The face is bland. It doesn't accuse. It doesn't ask for pity.

Turing's wartime work was hushed up for the longest time (national security don'tcha know) but he did as much to defeat Hitler as Churchill, Montgomery, the Battle of Britain pilots or anyone else you care to mention. He was a very great scientist. He was hounded to death.