In 1851 the townsfolk of Tenby in west Wales began construction of a monument. It would come to define the town the way the mighty pyramids define Cairo. It stands on the highest vantage point and looks down; it’s back turned toward the town’s other great master, the sea.
The monument was a plinth. It was to hold a statue of the greatest living man of the age; a man who strode the world like a colossus, master of an empire greater than any ever assembled. Albert prince consort, emperor in all but name would bestow his magisterial presence on the town by proxy. A statue was promised by the palace for services above and beyond during the Napoleonic wars.
Work on the plinth continued apace until eventually it was complete. Its construction nearly bankrupted the town. To this day Tenby High Street is mortgaged to a Bulgarian wood pulp cartel such was the cost of construction. It is a little known fact that the Crimean war began as an indirect result of two defaulted payments by Tenby town council. They have never missed another.
At last the huge edifice stood and waited for the arrival of the promised statue. And it waited. And it waited. One bitterly cold winters day five years after it’s promised due date with the citizens of Tenby, reduced to eating fish from the sea such was their financial hardship, the statue rolled into town.
Unfortunately the Crimean war had hit the empire’s finances to such an extent that the scale of the statue itself was reduced by almost two thirds. The plinth, the construction of which had started the war remained its original magnificent size. As the years passed the size discrepancy became less of an issue and today it is dismissed as an affectation of the times. A big man deserves a big plinth regardless of the size of his statue. We know better.