“This was the plan: we would take a holy and sacred picture of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis Presley, to the very summit of the earth; once there, we would place it with sincere reverence amongst the chimerical shimmering palaces of ice and snow and then (accompanied by some weird Zen magic) we would light joss sticks, dance about making screechy kung-fu noises, get off our faces, and that would be it: Planet Earth saved. Simple.”
~ Mark Manning, Bad Wisdom
WE HAD the same plan, at 9pm on Saturday 17th December 2011. But instead of a holy and sacred picture of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, we possessed a life-size copper bust of The Great Dictator, Kenneth W. Bates, which we’d just liberated from an Egyptian Temple in Holbeck. And we were on our way to Peter Lorimer’s pub.
Once there, we would place it with sincere reverence amongst the shimmering palaces of football, booze and fags and then we would take him outside, dance about playing “toss the chapati onto Ken Bates’ head”, get off our faces and that would be it: Leeds United saved. Simple.
We weren’t to know all this at the time, though, as we marched towards our destination in the hope that the landlord would be there so we could introduce him to our reconstituted copper effigy of his master. But Lorimer wasn’t there. Nobody was, except we sickpots with The Great Dictator, Kenneth W. Bates, and the Vikings sitting at the bar, demanding in guttural Norse tongues that their flagons be filled to be brim.
Suddenly, our ears pricked up. Vikings? In Holbeck? Could Valhalla, the great hall in which Norse gods received the souls of fallen heroes, stand right here in these frozen south Leeds wastelands? What better place to end our epic quest to sacrifice an artifact of such rare quality and undeniable potency?
Our disappointment would soon be complete, however. No amount of weird Zen magic; certainly no joss sticks; and no kung-fu noises, however screechy, could ever tempt Odin to receive our sacred and holy offering, for its subject – The Great Dictator, Kenneth W. Bates – not only possesses no soul, but also lacks the virtue of having a single heroic bone in his entire body. But shortly afterwards, safely back at the Temple, we did get off our faces.
Photos courtesy of Rob Glover. Thanks to Rob and to Mike Boorman for their good-humoured generosity, to Aidan Brown for creating a brilliant bust of Ken Bates which Ken Bates hates, and to everyone who came along to see it at The Square Ball do.