[L]ocated on a spot referred to in the 1950s by Churchill as “where my statue will go” and unveiled by his widow Lady Clementine Spencer-Churchill in 1973. Winston Churchill’s 12 ft bronze statute gazes towards Westminster Bridge shows the wartime leader standing with his hand resting on his walking stick and wearing a military greatcoat standing on a 8 ft high plinth with ‘Churchill’ inscribed on it in large capital letters.
The statue wasn’t without controversy – when the sculptor revealed his first attempt he was told to start again because it looked too much like Mussolini.
A later proposal to insert pins standing out of the Winston’s bald domed head was turned down in the 1970s – the pins were intended to stop wild birds from sitting on its head. It would also have given a rather punk persona to the great man, something briefly achieved by an anti-capitalist protester giving him a turf Mohican in the May Day riots of 2000.
But watch the statue for long enough and you’ll notice pigeons aren’t so fond of making their mark on it as they are on Nelson Mandela. This isn’t due to the respect in which the birds hold Britain’s wartime leader, but rather a sign of the respect in which the establishment holds him.
Churchill might be shocked to discover the authorities – exhibiting indomitable Churchillian spirit in the war against guano – afforded his statue the ultimate honour of a small electric current.
Any pigeon thinking of evacuating its bowels on Churchill’s bald pate is soon put off by an unpleasant tingling in its feet. The shoulders on which he carried the heavy burden of war are similarly spared the ignominy of white excrement epaulettes.
The unique privilege has another effect in winter when the electric bird-scarer doubles up as a heater, preventing Churchill from growing a snow coiffure.