Friday, 23 September 2011

From Damien Thorn To Michael Jackson – A Thames Walk

By all accounts, All Saints Fulham  seems a friendly and picturesque church located on the northern bank of the Thames right by Putney Bridge. They celebrate Eucharist three times a week, the churchyard is prettily laid out, and you can watch the tops of red London buses as they cruise from one side of the river to the other. There will of course always be those who spoil the whole impression by pointing out that this is also the place where national treasure Patrick Troughton gets a lightening rod through the chest as The Priest in 1976 satanic shocker The Omen. One balmy summer morning I found myself under the All Saints church tower staring up at that same lightning rod in the company of the Wellcome Library’s Ross MacFarlane. It was at his prompting, in fact, that I took the brooding shot reproduced at the top of the photographic sequence above.

We had actually come in search of Al Fayed’s notorious statue of Michael Jackson which is now located in the grounds of Fulham Football Club rather than the tasteful confines of Harrods, where it was no doubt originally intended to distract visitors at the Princess Diana votary shrine. Pilgrims will always need some sort of entertainment, so it seemed appropriate that Ross and I should retain the memory of a hell-born child sent to earth to do his master’s secret bidding as we made our way along the river, past neatly arranged Victorian parks and down shaded avenues of trees, in search of Michael. Like all sites of pilgrimage, this one comes with a price – you have to pay for an official guided tour of the entire stadium if you want to see the statue. To be honest, £5.00 seems a small price to pay to see this extraordinary memorial – especially if you think the recent work of Jake and Dinos Chapman has been less of a challenge than you’d like. Words cannot fully express the glib funerary horror of this monument to fame, mortality and sentiment. The scale alone provokes a profound sense of nausea: at seven feet tall it is too large to be comfortably life-sized and way too small to be imposing. The raised arm with its gloved fist actually seems to have developed some extra joint hitherto undetected in the human shoulder – Ross assured me that there is nothing in the Wellcome to rival it. And yet there he is: Michael Jackson, round the backend of a football stadium staring out across the Thames while in the throes of some unspecified act of entertainment.

Those who wish to re-enact the thrill of spying on Michael Jackson need only walk around the front of Fulham Football Grounds, take the first turning on your left and then pass along a wall that is green with age until you reach the river again. You will now find yourself in a small park with one raised corner diagonally opposite the rear gates of the Riverside Stand. Climb up on this raised corner, and Michael will appear to you. To see him surrounded by security fencing, locked gates and CCTV cameras – as detailed in the middle two photographs – is to have a unique experience of fame as it currently exists in the twenty-first century. To complete the moment, a small group of Japanese children showed up to gaze in wonder at their idol. It was certainly worth the journey: from demon child to child star. Where to go next? Hammersmith, which lies just a little further down the Thames path? ‘You’ll see me in hell, Mr Thorn,’ replied the Priest. ‘There we will share out our sentence.’

See also:
Michael Jackson: A New Face in Hell for 2010
Utter Trash: The Resistible Rise of Michael Jackson Denounced by Fan
The Resistible Demise of Michael Jackson (They Don’t Really Care About Us)
Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley
Michael Jackson Was Always Good To Me

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