Churchill’s golden loo

© Blenheim Art Foundation

Berlin, Germany (Weltexpress). As if the long-suffering British did not already have enough worries as regards to their self-inflicted Brexit disaster: now even the golden loo got lost.

The British Isles has always been a paradise for lovers of quirky, time-honoured traditions, square rites and absurd customs. But in these days of a relentlessly ticking Brexit countdown, everything seems a bit more surreal. As in Blenheim Palace, the 18th-century Winston Churchill family home, now inhabited by the 12th Duke of Marlborough, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, setting the scene for a James Bond thriller.

The Italian conceptual artist Maurizio Cattelan is currently exhibiting his satirical works. In addition to an oversized Union Jack carpet in the courtyard, a stuffed horse hanging from the ceiling in the portrait gallery, and a distorted image of Adolf Hitler, all visitors were thrilled by Winston Churchill’s fully functional, solid 18-karat gold toilet next to his one-time bedroom. Titled “America 2016”, the work unmistakably tosses barbs at Trump’s election as US president.

The shocked nation burst into mock laughter when, overnight, the estimated £ 4.8 million object disappeared without a trace – and, brutally torn from its bracing, caused a small flood in the splendid palace. The artwork is likely to prove irretrievable since probably melted down by the gangsters long ago.

Edward Spencer-Churchill, half-brother of the duke and founder of the Blenheim Art Foundation, had renounced any surveillance of the costly work of art, as no one would ever think of stealing something as unappetizing as a toilet. But that was made of gold – and “non olet”, as the ancient Romans already knew.

Similarly shrugging and unaware, this whole nation has rattled into the Brexit process. The provisional last act of the drama took place recently in small Luxembourg – and immediately received the label “Podium Gate”. Xavier Bettel, the head of the tiny Grand Duchy’s government, ironically referred to the empty podium next to him in the chorus of Brexit opponents and gave the floor to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Who would have had nothing to say anyway. Because he lied not only to the Queen, but, once again, to the whole nation: the new Brexit negotiations, which are in full swing and ostensibly should lead, bingo, to a surprising solution, do not exist. Or: not anymore. Like Churchill’s golden loo.


The article by Charles E. Ritterband was first published in WELTEXPRESS Deutsch on 23.9.2019. The text was translated by Christoph Merten from German into English.

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