Alfred Drury’s impressive statue of Queen Victoria has graced Portsmouth Guildhall Square since 1903. But a student from the University of Portsmouth claims that the statue recently told him it is unhappy in its current location. The student has contacted Portsmouth City Council (PCC) twice in the last year to request the statue be moved, but on both occasions PCC insisted that it had more legitimate enquiries to deal with. Gavin Dollery reports.
The student – who insists on being referred to as “Sherlock Gnomes” – claims to have heard persistent mumblings from the statue that indicate Victoria ia ‘confused, frustrated and fed up of Elizabeth I.’
Sherlock said he had accumulated a number of Dictaphone recordings of the statue talking over the last twelve months but this evidence was lost at sea after a fateful booze-filled evening at Spitbank Fort.
‘I realise how this must look: a twentysomething-year-old student who spends most of his time nursing chronic hangovers and critiquing the effectiveness of new drinking games tries to get the council to help a talking monument with no proof that it actually talks. But I’m telling you this is legit. This is one miserable statue.’
Sherlock – who frequently passes by Victoria to attend lectures – first contacted the council in August 2017 claiming that the arrival of the new HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier in the navy base was the source of the statue’s unhappiness.
‘I’m telling you it all started with that aircraft carrier. Vicky – that’s what I call her – she overheard people saying they were heading to the beach to watch the Queen Elizabeth come into Portsmouth. She was baffled that the ship was named after her great-great-grandmother and I’m right behind her on that. Elizabeth I only did 44 years as queen. Vicky did 63. It should have been called HMS Queen Victoria instead.’
When quizzed on how he can be so confident that he actually hears her voice, Sherlock was quick to clarify.
‘Initially, I thought I must have been hallucinating, but the more I ate my Subway and the more I concentrated on her unhappy face, the more I heard her voice. It became more clear and vivid. I could feel her energy, her spirit.
‘Sure, people have tapped me on the shoulder to ask if I’m OK when I’m looking into her eyes on tip-toes for hours on end holding up a Dictaphone, but my response is always the same: “I’m working. Leave me alone.”‘
From his conversations with Victoria, Sherlock has come to understand the former monarch’s views on a range of matters:
• She gets fed up of the swearing, violence and vomiting in the square on a Friday and Saturday night
• She would quite like to go shopping at Gunwharf Quays
• She only feels happy when HMS Queen Elizabeth is out at sea
• She gets irritated having to look at the lion statues outside the Guildhall as she’s pretty sure a lion has never been to Portsmouth
• She loves watching the big screen but was disappointed it didn’t show any of the World Cup
Perhaps most striking of all is Sherlock’s assertion that the statue would like to be moved to another part of the city.
‘Vicki would love to be moved to a more majestic location in Portsmouth; a place that would reinstate her as the most important [former] queen in the city. And after a lengthy discussion with her at the height of the heatwave we both agreed on the new location – the top floor of the Spinnaker Tower.
‘Forget that it’s a viewing platform, they’ve already got two of them downstairs. Having her up there will ensure she’ll be looking down on the QE when it’s docked. It also kind of fits in with her vision to be the “Portsmouth version” of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro but she’ll l likely be looking away from the city rather than at it. We’ll iron out the exact details once we get approval.’
As Sherlock prepares to make contact with PCC for a third time, his relocation plans were given a huge boost when he recently discovered that his smart phone has a voice recorder on it.
‘This is game-changer. If I can record our conversations on my phone then I can back it up on my laptop and transfer it all to a memory stick. Having it stored electronically could be the difference between me having and not having the evidence as it won’t matter if I lose my phone on a night-out. And if the council still refuse to help Vicki despite all the evidence I put before them then I’ll probably start a petition or something.’