On Sunday 30th November people gathered on Bermondsey Riverside for an unveiling. The veils were carefully placed over a family. The Salter family, who have been mentioned many times in these posts, were to be re-established in the space next to the Angel Pub which forms the opening scene of Politic Man.
Night. Reflections from the River fall on a statue of a man seated and facing upstage. The right arm is raised as if waving.
Dr Alfred was the first to be unveiled and this time he was sitting down with a sturdy umbrella re-enforcing his security to allay fears of further theft as in 2011 when the first replica in Bronze was taken.
His wife, Ada, was the next figure to be revealed; not sitting but standing upright, leaning heavily on a spade to signify her love of all things green.
And then came little Joyce whose statue had been taken for safe keeping and proudly brought back today to lean nonchalantly against the river wall. And on the wall was her cat.
The public gaze was proud and affectionate all at the same time. The Salters had contributed to their homes and community in ways un-imagined before and marvelled at since. There were speeches from heads of Council Departments, from visitors from overseas, from those involved with the fundraising and the organisation of this event. And then there was Daisy. Daisy is an elderly resident of Bermondsey and had much to say about her growing up years and did so with relish in a speech that rang out loud and clear. The picture of the child growing up in the 1920s and thirties was enlightening and the gratitude she and her family felt for the Salters was heartfelt without sentimentality. After her allotted time however, a gracious reminder from one of the Councillors that she was over time was ignored. She had a couple more things to say, she said, and was not inclined to stop now. The Salters would be fighting for our NHS, said Daisy, Alfred being one of the founder members. Why has no-one mentioned this today? And while we’re on the subject, says Daisy, the Salters were pacifists and would rail against the terrible weapon that is Trident and why are we spending so much money on that, she said with understandable fury as one who had seen her community blitzed. And with a rousing cheer from her adoring audience, she was done.
A great way to end the homage, Daisy. Do you want to be in my play?