World Book Day fiasco: public outcry at ‘ghastly’ new Jambo statues
In what some are already branding ‘Jersey’s Millennium Domes’, ministers are today having to field some pretty uncomfortable questions after unveiling this morning two commemorative 20-foot tall silverback gorillas: one on Cyril le Marquand House, and the other on the States Chambers. The statues of Jambo, who won plaudits from across the globe after shielding young Levan Merrit from possible harm after he had fallen into his enclosure back in 1986, has in his hands a book, and are: ‘a combined celebration, marking World Book Day, and Jersey’s most famous humanitarian primate’.
Breaking Jersey News was on the steps of Cyril Le Marquand House as the first of the statues was unveiled this morning. ‘These can be our Eiffel Towers’ chief minister Gorst told the gathered masses. ‘Our Statues of Liberty. Places where we can gather in times of hardship and in celebration. I’ve heard some of your negative remarks’ he said ‘But answer me this: do you know how many people were outraged when the Angel of the North got the go-ahead?!’ he banged his hand down onto the lectern ‘Ten years from now!’ he said ‘these almighty nods to Jambo, and to our very literary culture itself, will more than double our revenue from tourism, and cement our place amongst our European partners as not only forward thinkers, but of an empathetic and gracious people. And I’ll eat my hat if they don’t.’ Jeers and shouting rang out from the congregation. A man who had staggered out of some shrubbery in Parade Gardens, dropped the can of cider he was holding, stumbled over the pavement as he tacked toward the crowds, fell to the ground, and, gesticulating haphazardly in the direction of the assembly as he attempted to get to his feet again, shouted: ‘There’s enough monkeys in there already!’ before he slumped down onto the pedestrian crossing, broke wind, then fell asleep.
‘This is an absolute joke.’ St Helier librarian Maureen Dankspeare told us. ‘It really is. I really don’t think Jambo would choose the tax office to ponder his lot, do you? And look!’ she said, pointing. ‘Look up there! They’ve got him reading J D Salinger! The Catcher in the Rye! Jambo would be 87 now. Do you really think he would the relate to the protagonist? Of course not. Holden Caulfield was a young, spontaneous man, wrestling with the itchiness and turmoil of his very being. It is a work championed by the directionless; by the hunger and the uncertainty of youth. Jambo has a diginity, a dignity and a self-knowledge at odds with the whole essence of the thing. Philip Roth. That’s who Jambo would be curled up with. Philip Roth – or Anton Checkov. Someone grounded. Someone temperate. Someone at once joyous at the realisation of his own self, but simultaneously despairing at the banality and uselessness of it all.’ ‘And apparently’ she said ‘the other one is even worse’
We spoke to local artist Nicolas Romeril, who has spent the last eighteen months creating the statues in complete secrecy. ‘I’m not going to lie’ he said ‘it hurts when people say nasty things. When the curtain went down at the States Chambers this morning and someone immediately threw a Burger King frappe over Jambo, it took my every strength to not go straight over to him and give him what-for. Do you know?’ he said, ‘People didn’t like the Angel of the North when that first went up. And look at her now! I want people to look up at the States Chambers this time next year, and to find it inconceivable that things could go back to the way they were beforehand’