If there’s one thing Saturday’s unbelievable events have shown, it’s how much the Eric Morecambe statue means to the people of this town.
As Mike Fountain, Eric’s chauffeur and friend, rightly says, it is only a sculpture. There needs to be some sense of perspective when talking about its loss. After all, nobody got hurt, and nobody died.
Then again, it’s OUR statue. It’s our symbol. It’s what our town is known for, globally. So it’s hard not to feel emotional at the fact that someone decided to hack away at Eric’s leg in the dead of night and cause him to be taken away.
Our newspaper campaigned long and hard in the 1990s, with help from funding from local people, celebrities and fans of Morecambe and Wise worldwide, to create a permanent tribute to our favourite son. We were proud when the Queen came to unveil Eric, and prouder still to see how the statue became a magnet for tourists and a source of immense affection for sand grown’uns over the past 15 years.
The reaction the incident shows how much people care about the landmark, and the man himself who brought us all sunshine.
Such is the depth of feeling, a community meeting is being organised next Wednesday (October 22) at the Midland hotel at 6.30pm where the sculptor Graham Ibbeson and Lancaster City Council will answer questions about the process of repairs and how quickly Eric can return to his rightful home. This is a great idea and one we fully support...because time is of the essence.
Right now, there is a great big hole on the promenade. And it does feel like a hole has been ripped out of the heart of the town.
As the Bill Withers song says, there ain’t no sunshine when he’s gone.
Let’s hope he’s not gone too long.