diamond geezer

 Wednesday, November 29, 2023

I went to see the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum yesterday.
They were all broken, so I don't see why Greece can't have them back.

They're the wrong shape and made of the wrong material to be proper marbles, they should be small round and glassy, you could never play a game with these. Send them back!

This whole controversy thing is just a ploy by the British Museum to drum up more visitors. It worked with me anyway, I went yesterday, and their devious marketing strategy deserves to be thwarted so send them back.

The museum's got loads of these marbles, an entire roomful, and quite frankly a lot of them look the same (oh look more horsemen, ho hum another headless god), so if we kept a handful to represent the main tropes we could certainly send all the others back.



Most of the people looking at the marbles are tourists, foreign tourists, so it wouldn't matter if we sent them back, everyone could just fly to Greece rather than London and look at them there instead.

I don't know if you know the history but in 1687 war came to Athens and the Ottomans stored their gunpowder in the Parthenon, and then the Venetians fired a cannon at it and the subsequent explosion seriously damaged most of the marbles so it's entirely the Greeks' fault they're in such a mess. The rubble lay around for decades so when the British turned up in 1801 it was hardly cultural appropriation, we were almost doing them a favour. OK maybe hacking them off the ruins made the damage worse but at least Elgin didn't sell them to Napoleon, and Lord Elgin definitely asked the Sultan for permission first even though no paperwork exists, and certainly a Parliamentary committee absolved him of all blame. Essentially it's complicated but we totally have permission to own them, no court would argue otherwise, but we should probably send them back anyway as an act of faith.

It's not even a busy room, look at this photo there's hardly anybody in it. It seems Britons simply don't appreciate what they've got so they'd never notice if they were all sent back.



The West Frieze is almost entirely in Athens anyway, we've only got the majority of the North, South and East Friezes, so if Greece has some of the marbles already there's no philosophical argument against them having the lot.

Absolutely nothing in the gallery refers to our ownership of the sculptures being problematic, there's no mention at all. Apart that is from a hole labelled 'Please take a leaflet to find out more about the controversy surrounding the Parthenon sculptures', except the slot is empty, there are no leaflets, therefore there is no controversy QED so we could send them back guilt-free.

The way things are going some visitor is eventually going to vandalise them, indeed two schoolboys knocked off a centaur's leg in 1961, so the ideal way to protect them permanently would be to send them to the only country where Greek protestors wouldn't be inherently angry, i.e. back.

Most of the figures have no heads, indeed when you do see one with a head it's quite a rarity. A lot of limbs are missing too, indeed the number of limbless torsos is unnervingly high, so this is a fundamentally flawed sculptural collection and it should go back.



If you read the labels under the headless statues they say things like this one's perhaps Persephone and this one's probably Dionysus, because nobody actually knows, and what's the point of art if you don't know what it is, send them back.

Hardly any of the marbles include females, they're totally male-biased, which isn't the gender balance we should be presenting in a British museum so we should totally send them back.

The British Museum Act 1963 forbids the British Museum from disposing of its holdings, but it wouldn't be impossible to pass a new law allowing the government to flog things off, thereby permitting us to sell them back.

Rishi is determined to keep them but the opinion polls show most people wouldn't vote for him so he should instead try courting popularity by sending them back.



The worst thing about the British Museum on a weekday is the number of school parties, they're everywhere, running through the Etruscans, kneeling round the Sutton Hoo helmet, surrounding the mummies while they fill in worksheets, gulping down sandwiches in the Great Court and generally getting in the way of all the adults. How much better if there was a giant empty room on the edge of the museum where they could all go for lunch and lectures, and the best way to achieve that aim would be to empty the Parthenon Gallery and send them all back.

The curators have had to install two industrial sized heaters in the gallery to keep the marbles in tiptop condition, and how much easier it would be to relocate them to a warmer country, for example Greece.

Yesterday I queued outside the museum for ten minutes only to be told when I reached the front of the queue that I didn't need to go through the bag check because I didn't have a bag, just go straight through, and I have zero respect for an institution that still can't sort out its entrance procedures even after five years of pointless bloody queueing, and by the time I got to the front door I despised the management so much that I wanted to send their marbles back out of pure vengeance because if they can't organise a queue they don't deserve to be looking after some other country's treasures.

Greece is in the EU and the whole point of Brexit was not to give things back to the EU, so it would really piss off the Leavers if we did so let's do it.



The rest of the Greek galleries are a bit further away and the peculiar thing is they all smell of pizza. That's because the British Museum includes an actual pizzeria at the end of Minoan corridor and the odour of doughy baking leaches out into the Greek rooms. It's totally culturally inappropriate, indeed if the pizzeria has to exist it should obviously be nearer the Roman remains. The best thing would be to clear out the Parthenon Gallery and relocate the restaurant there, and we can only do that by sending the contents home.

I also walked round the whole of the rest of the museum and it's both huge and amazing, so very full of treasures. It took me hours, indeed I even stumbled upon a gallery I'd never spotted before, that's how huge it is. And because the marbles only fill one room people would hardly notice if they weren't there, there's plenty to see elsewhere, so we could definitely send them back.

The British Museum should be a repository of Britishness, the things that made Britain great. We don't need all these foreign exhibits, we could fill the place ten times over with King Henry VIII's armour, Churchill's cigar, spinning jennies, red pillar boxes, teapots, hats from Ascot, stripy beach huts, copies of the Beano and woad. Don't just send the marbles back, repatriate everything.


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