Bring me the Queen’s head!
Seriously. No questions asked. If you know where it is, there’s a jar of my wife’s dill pickles in it for you as a reward, though she says she prefers her salsa.
As I write this, the Queen’s head — heretofore a popular name for a British pub, but today more famous as the victim of a Beacon Hill Park decapitation — remains missing, just like your spare car keys or the Canucks’ confidence. Somebody busted a bronze bust of Elizabeth II on Wednesday, giving her the Marie Antoinette treatment, and her noggin is nowhere to be found.
This is not the first time this has happened. As the TC’s Louise Dickson reported Friday, in 1960 an earlier, concrete version of the bust was first kidnapped from city hall and then, after being recovered and installed in the park, subjected to a hockey career’s worth of facial injuries before the royal coconut was severed and chucked into the Inner Harbour. Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown, and all that.
Why does such mischief occur? Dunno. Sometimes vandals attack statues because they’re like people who can’t fight back. Sometimes the statues just get restless and wander off on their own. Note that in August 1998 Her Majesty’s neighbour, Robbie Burns, went walkabout after cooling his heels in Beacon Hill Park for almost a century. He showed up in a driveway in Oak Bay’s Island Road a few days later.
Likewise, Sookie Sam, the three-metre, 140-kilogram wooden mascot who stood outside the Sunny Shores Marina in Sooke bolted for Victoria in 1992, though that turned out to be a high school grad prank. Sam also lost his head (literally, not figuratively) for a brief period in 2008 before Mounties recovered it from a couple of local guys.
Because of the coincidental timing, there has been some speculation, but no evidence, that this week’s beheading was linked to a graffiti spree in which downtown buildings were defaced with messages relating to the park. There’s a lot of despair and anger out there.
Or perhaps the vandalism was merely a case of “Hold my beer and watch this,” as is so often the case.
Or maybe this was the work of one of those anti-monarchist groups that pop up now and then, the ones with names like Citizens for a Canadian Republic or the Humourless Raisin-Hearted Bastards Who Should Devote This Kind of Energy to Real Problems. It seems the only ones who are really passionate about the Queen’s place in Canada these days are those who oppose it. With a surfeit of logic but an absence of romance, their hobbies include worshipping Stalin and burning books of poetry.
If they were behind the vandalism it would be good news for monarchists, as it’s always better to be on the non-destructive side of an argument. That is, it’s reassuring to be on the team that doesn’t impose its will through violent intolerance, like the ISIS zealots who burned, bulldozed and blew up cultural and historic sites across Syria and Iraq, the Taliban funsters who damaged the towering sixth-century Bamiyan Buddha statues of central Afghanistan, or the Trumpian neo-nutzis who ransacked the Capitol building. When the crackpot in the fur hat with the horns gives you the stink-eye, you know you’re on the side of the angels.
On the flip side, you really don’t want to find yourself in a selfie with horned-hat man’s arm around your shoulders. Here’s a secret: As a columnist, I worry less about earning the enmity of racists, conspiracy freaks and extremists than I do about being tarred with their support. Every once in a while I’ll get an email from someone saying something like “I really liked your piece on hospital parking fees” and I’ll think, “What a wise and perceptive reader.” But then the message will continue with, “I tell all my friends that you’re right, it’s too bad the fees are funding Bill Gates’s mind-control vaccines,” and I have to set my computer on fire. Lisa Helps got a taste of that when her criticism of Sharmarke Dubow’s international travel was hijacked and twisted by white-supremacists. Nightmare.
But I digress. None of us knows what happened to the Beacon Hill bust, whether its decapitation was a product of rage, or politics, or simply a combination of too little thinking and too much drinking.
Whatever. Operating on the principle that it’s always better to build than to break, and that it shouldn’t be up to the faceless to decide who goes headless, it would be good to see the missing bit returned. Hence my offer of the pickles.
Also, remember that no actual human lost their head here.