JENNY ECLAIR: WHY SO MANY RUBBISH SCULPTURES?

Camberwell comedian Jenny Eclair is back on tour, discovering the beauty of Britain and also our knack for peppering the countryside with bizarre scultpures

Hello from somewhere else in the country! Yes I am back on tour, this time with Team Grumpy, which means there are three middle-aged women travelling around together leaving a trail of dropped cardigans and forgotten phone chargers from Glasgow to Yeovil.

Seriously, I am getting too old for this. Within three miles of leaving fellow grumpy Susie Blake’s house, I was already tired and thirsty. Our driver James stopped at the nearest garage and I got out to do a Diet Coke run. Coming out of the petrol station I proceeded to climb back into the wrong people carrier and told the bewildered and slightly frightened driver that it was ‘Two for £2!’

I was, of course, referring to the Diet Cokes, but from the look he gave me he obviously thought I was some kerb-side hooker offering him a cheap deal. Realising my mistake, I apologised profusely, got out of the wrong people carrier and back into the grumpy-mobile, which turned out to be a completely different make, model and colour.

Touring at this time of the year is much easier than in the depths of winter and we ladies are trying to keep things civilised with some interesting activities and day trips whenever possible

Touring at this time of the year is much easier than in the depths of winter and we ladies are trying to keep things civilised with some interesting activities and day trips whenever possible.

So should you ever find yourself in Staffordshire, may I recommend Trentham Estate – it has all the things one might need on a day trip, including a maze, lake (with boats), monkey forest and Italian gardens. It also has an onsite retail park with shops and cafés. Yes, sadly I have become one of those people who likes a nice walk, a good lunch and the possibility of a souvenir.

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What I wasn’t so keen on at Trentham was the unnecessary addition to the gardens and woods of winsome ‘fairies’ fashioned from galvanised stainless steel. I know it’s for the kiddies (tut) but not only are they hideous, some of them are disturbingly busty.

I’m getting quite peevish about rubbish sculptures anywhere. While being on the road this year I’ve lost count of the number of horrific pieces cropping up in the name of ‘public art’ on roundabouts outside our towns and cities.

There are some shockers here in London too, particularly around Park Lane, including the monstrosity that is the She Guardian, a hideous Dungeons and Dragons-style mythical winged creature, currently blotting the landscape up by Marble Arch. She Guardian is this year’s winner of The Spectator magazine award for worst public art in the country. It’s so bad it’s worth catching a bus up into town to have a gawp.

Much classier installations are currently to be found at the Tate Modern, where Mona Hatoum is having a retrospective. This exhibition is right at the top of my Things to Do in London list this month, plus by the time this is printed, the new Tate wing will be on the brink of opening. Love it or loathe it, it’s a serious addition to the bounty of Bankside and yet another reason for being proud of living on the culture side of the capital.

PS: For anyone who wants to lecture me about the perils of Diet Coke; I know. But really, have you tried coconut water? Bleurgh.