Sunday, July 27, 2008

The animation of a tailor's dummy

The village of Lamberhurst in Tunbridge Wells has many claims to fame; Margaret Thatcher lived here, as did the fathers of both Kenneth Clarke and Jeremy Beadle (I wonder if they ever shared a lunchtime pint?) and there was for many years a safe house for Soviets intent on "crossing over to the West".

Until now I wouldn't have given Lamberhurst accolades for its graffiti. And yet last weekend, walking a large cardboard carton round to the dustcart kindly provided by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council every fortnight to take away large household waste, I passed a bus shelter. Inside, neatly graffitied in the apex of the roof, was the legend "Kraftwerk" - the cult seventies trio from Dusseldorf whose electronic "industrial pop" gave hearing difficulties to many a follower.

I was reminded of an article I read at the time. Kraftwerk weren't exactly over-endowed with stage presence, and their shows were basically three completely static keyboard players, whose only moving part was their hands - even that only occasionally since most of the arrangements were pre-programmed into synthesisers. Apparently, Kraftwerk commissioned lifelike dummies of themselves in order that they might play several concerts on the same evening, with only one featuring the real band.

I can think of several public figures at the moment who would be grateful even for the animation of a tailor's dummy.

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