I'm always fascinated by street entertainers. I'm intrigued by buskers who think they're more impressive if they're accompanied by a backing track. I often find myself thinking about those strange giant figures you find scattered around cities of the North West: men of possibly Iranian descent who just stand there on their stepladders, faces painted white and in long white robes that make them look like they're twelve feet tall. They just stare off into the distance before occasionally flinching enough to make a big woman or small Liberal Democrat scream.
Among the many which fascinate me is this character who I was surprised to see pop up in our local town today. I've previously seen him in either Manchester or Liverpool or possibly both. He makes sculptures in sand. Well, I say 'sculptures' when I mean to say that he seems to make one sculpture. He always sculpts a dog, lying down, its jowls spread out, and with four big holes, two for the eyes and two for the nostrils.
Now that fascinates me. Why does he always sculpt the same thing? If you were skilled in the art of sand manipulation, wouldn't you want to stretch yourself? Wouldn't you perhaps want a bit of novelty to liven up those long cold hours kneeling in the middle of the street? Wouldn't you want to do the occasional fish, cat, giant clam? I know if it was me, I'd eventually be drawn to do a politician's face which I'd then make available to any passerby willing to pay £5 to stamp it into oblivion.
But no, this guy only seems to do dogs and that raises interesting questions.
- Can he only sculpt a dog?
- Does he only have enough sand to sculpt a dog? Would a reclining nude might be a big too far? He could be half a cup or an entire tit short of the full figurine.
- Is there's some religious symbolism behind the dog? Is he trying to master the form in the belief that once he achieves the perfect mutt, he'll achieve some mystical insight?
- Has long experience of kneeling on cold pavements in the dead of winter has taught him that people are more likely to leave money if he crafts a dog that looks particularly pitiful? If so, then I'd like to welcome this blog's new mascot: Hairball, my cute but retarded Labrador.
Not bad questions, I hope you'll agree, but not as good as the question that really leaps out.
- Is this a scam? Is that dog impregnated with some chemical fixative because, I swear, that this is the same dog as I've seen in other towns and cities?
Consider this scenario.
The dog is set solid. The artist probably takes it home every night carefully covered with a cloth and then thrown into the back of his van. I'll surmise even further: perhaps there are hundreds of these dogs and this character is part of a dog sculpting ring operating country wide. There is one master dog mould and it's used to produce hundreds of the little buggers in a third world factory. They are then handed out to member of the gang along with half a cup of real sand which they spread out over their work surface. To the side of the dog, today's sculptor was making a second dog but, from where I was looking, it suspiciously looked far less impressive than the first.
Consider also that the guy is clearly making good money. He has a few quid on that mat (far more than all my apps, books, cartoons have earned me today) and he can clearly afford to buy better underwear. Look at the quality of his boxers. The elastic in my underpants went months ago. Months ago!
All of which has led me to the conclusion that I should indeed quit blogging and call it day with my cartoons. Tomorrow I'm buying myself a knee pads and I'm heading out. Look out for me huddled on the street. You'll recognise me because I'll be standing over my lifelike recreation of Sigourney Weaver in her Alien vest, her entire six feet modelled in half a hundredweight of shale chippings. Feel free to say hello or throw me a little change. I'm saving up to buy myself some quality thermals with elastic that hasn't perished.
I'm dreaming big, people. I'm dreaming big.