Monday, 17 July 2006

London Weirdness 1

by Charles Pooter

Ted Hoffman joined me in London this Sunday and, before enjoying some Samuel Smith lager at the John Snow in Soho, I dragged him along on my mission to photograph the dragon's testicles of Ye Olde London Towne.

Along the section of the Victoria Embankment that runs between Waterloo Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge along the North bank of the Thames, there is much to interest the student of weirdness. There is Cleopatra's needle, the ancient obelisk dragged from Alexandria at a cost of a few minor disasters and six lives. There is the Temple Church, built by the Knights Templar in the 12th century at the site of the English headquarters of that order. The church is still now a Royal Peculiar, falling under the direct jurisdiction of the Queen of England rather than the local bishop. Then there is perhaps the strangest anomaly: the City of London itself. The square mile is an independent entity run by the Corporation of London, where billions exchange hands every day. Bustling with hundreds of thousands of workers on any given weekday, it is an eerie ghost-town on a Sunday afternoon.

At various positions around the boundaries to the square mile are statues of red dragons—the heraldic creature that are the supporters to the City of London's shield:

The most prominent examples of these dragons are on either side of the Victoria Embankment road near Temple Station:

Click photos to enlarge

If you look closely at the dragons, you will notice that they have something to be proud of:

Yes, that's right, the craftsman has seen fit to give the beastie a good size pair of testicles and, as far as I could tell, that is also a substantial phallus pressed upwards against the creature's stomach. This particular dragon must be a cock-atrice.

Hoffman was in agreement that this was a strange detail to put on a statue of a dragon. However, when I mentioned this detail to another friend of mine, they just shrugged and said it was there to make the creature "more realistic". A dragon. More realistic. Well, I suppose it could be an anatomically correct model of Prince Philip—when in lizard form.

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