There wasn’t much fanfare as Graham Ibbeson ambled across the prom from Costa Coffee to ‘unveil’ the Eric Morecambe statue, writes GREG LAMBERT.
As a few lucky observers looked on, a blanket tied around Eric’s head was removed in a matter of seconds.
And once again, after two long months, our favourite son stood proudly on the seafront.
It wasn’t quite July 23 1999, teeming crowds and the Queen, but it didn’t matter.
The most important thing was that the Eric Morecambe statue was back in its rightful home.
It was just after 9 on Thursday morning and despite the bitter chill of high winds coming off the bay, a peep of sun was straining through the clouds.
How appropriate to signal the return of the man who brings us sunshine.
Half an hour earlier, the process of reinstalling the statue had begun.
Eric arrived on the prom on the back of a truck, the statue attached to a crane with a ‘noose’ like rope around his neck.
“What has Eric ever done to deserve being hanged?” quipped an onlooker.
Surely the comedian would have seen the funny side!
Then Jerry Hughes, manager of the London foundry where Eric had been repaired, and sculptor Graham gently supported the statue as the crane manoeuvered it back into its familiar position.
Eric didn’t go back very easily. A swarm of Lancaster City Council and foundry workers were needed.
In hi-vis jackets, they surrounded the base of the statue feverishly. Their mission was to fit the 40cm square stainless steel base of the sculpture, which had eight small holes in it, into protruding bolts to secure him into the ground.
“How many workmen does it take to place an Eric?” was another observer’s quip.
It took a few attempts for a perfect fit, and some nervous glances from Graham.
But eventually, our Eric slotted into place with a clunk!
The small crowd of onlookers cheered.
Genial Graham’s immediate reaction was: “I’m very happy and relieved...but I was a bit nervous then!”
Then after doing a round of TV interviews, the sculptor and Jerry wandered off for a well-deserved hot drink, returning several minutes later for the low-key ‘unveiling’.
As Eric surveyed his familiar surroundings, he was faced by ‘Welcome Home’ signs in the windows of Eric’s Cafe across the road.
Passing cars beeped their horns and there were shouts of ‘Yes Eric!’ and ‘Come on!’ almost in football match-style celebration.
The Eric Morecambe statue was back. A huge hole in Morecambe life was filled. And all was right with the world.