Wednesday, June 13, 2012


While Freddy the Little Nude Dude perched upon the City Hall Fountain tends to get all the attention, I prefer the Dunn Fountain located just east of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery.  Placed by Lord Beaverbrook in memory of his friend Sir James Dunn, the fountain was imported from the magnificent 18th century Stowe House in Buckinghamshire, England.  On an idyllic summer, it never fails to remind me of the opening essay in J.B. Priestley's Delight (a book I wrote about here.) I've included his essay below.

FOUNTAINS, I doubt if I ever saw one, even the smallest without some tingling delight. They enchant me in the daytime, when the sunlight ennobles their jets and sprays and turns their scattered drops into diamonds.They enchant me after dark when coloured lights are played on them, and the night rains emeralds, rubies, sapphires, And best of all, when the last colour is whisked away, and there they are in dazzling white glory!

The richest memory I have of the Bradford Exhibition of my boyhood, better than even the waterchute or the Somali Village or the fireworks, is of the Fairy Fountain, which changed colour to the waltzes of the Blue Hungarian Band, and was straight out of the Arabian nights. And I believe my delight in these magical jets of water, the invention of which does credit to our whole species, is shared by ninety-nine persons out of every hundred.

But where are they, these fountains we love? We hunger for them and are not fed. A definite issue could be made out of this, beginning with letters to the Times, continuing with meetings and unanimous resolutions and deputations to Downing Street, and ending if necessary with processions and mass demonstrations and some rather ugly scenes.

What is the use of our being told that we live in a democracy if we want fountains and have no fountains? Expensive? The cost is trifling compared to that of so many idiotic things we are given and do not want. Our towns are crammed with all manner of rubbish that no people in their senses ever asked for, yet where are the fountains?

By all means let us have a policy of full employment, increased production, no gap between exports and imports, social security, a balanced This and a planned That, but let us also have fountains - more and more fountains - higher and higher fountains - fountains like wine, like blue and green fire, fountains like diamonds - rainbows in every square. Crazy? Probably. But with hot wars and cold wars we have already tried going drearily mad. Why not try going delightfully mad? Why not stop spouting ourselves and let it be done for us by graceful fountains, exquisite fountains, beautiful fountains?

J. B. Priestley

No comments: