He wasn’t the first one to think about it but a humor columnist for POLITICO suggested – ironically, of course – that if Greeks want back the stolen Parthenon Marbles in the British Museum that they should just steal them back, old boy.
Writing for Declassified, Paul Dallison suggested – British tongue-in-cheek apparently – that a heist is the best way because the museum and Brits refuse to return them and claim them as their own, forgetting they were made in Greece.
Alas, he too called them the Elgin Marbles, after the Scottish diplomat who ripped them off the Parthenon in the early 18th Century with the permission of the ruling Ottoman Empire, which didn’t own them.
“Greece of course would prefer that we call them Parthenon Sculptures, but that sounds a little too much like a mid-1970s prog rock band,” he said, maybe a pretty good idea as sound travels well off marble as the Greeks long have known.
The late actress and former Culture Minister Melina Mercouri rebranded them The Parthenon Marbles and led the fight for their return, smacking down British opponents in debates with that look of hers that could melt lead.
Referring to a spat between Greece and British Premier Rishi Sunak – who snubbed Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis for daring to talk about the issue while in London – Dallison wrote, “If Greece really does want the marbles back, it’s going about it all wrong.”
His answer? Drum roll please … “Don’t rely on diplomacy, that never works,” although that’s what Greece has been trying and trying and trying and failing and failing for decades, perhaps meeting the definition of insanity.
“Just steal them! That’s the best way, he said, Greece having said they were stolen because they were and the British saying they weren’t because the occupying Turks let Elgin take them.
“I’m not sure that theft from the British Museum is even classed as a crime,” he said, a curator there having been fired after thousands of objects and artifacts were stolen and put up for sale online and no one prosecuted for anything.
“ (POLITICO’s lawyers would like me to point out that theft of any kind is a crime and that my suggested defense for stealing from the British Museum — irony — has no basis in the law)” he said.
Why stop with just writing about it? Let’s make a major motion picture! “Alas, so far I have had no response from Hollywood bigwigs to my suggestion for the next blockbuster movie: The Great Elgin Marbles Caper,” he added.
That would be a homage to those wonderfully sublime 1940s and 50s British studio Ealing comedies featuring Alec Guinness in The Man in the White Suit and Kind Hearts and Coronets.
Dallison images the often scouring Joaquin Phoenix (we wanted the bearded one from You Were Never Really Here) who, frustrated at attempts to bring back the Elgin – make that Parthenon – Marbles, gets a job as a museum security guard.
The plot gets a little thin there – this isn’t Topkapi after all – but the idea is that
Mitsotakis makes a big mistake by discussing his plan with the clumsy, oafish owner of a local café (played by Boris Johnson) who tips off the authorities.
Then the Prime Minister (Thandiwe Newton) orders a crack team to painstakingly create a replica of the Elgin (Parthenon) Marbles for the Greeks to steal but there’s a Shyamalan (I see ancient Marbles) twist.
“When the Brits discover the replica was so good that they accidentally gave the original to the Greeks and kept the fake version in London,” he said, even those being better than what the British have passing as culture.
“The ending’s not finished yet but it will either be everyone involved having a good old laugh at the ludicrousness of the situation, or there’s a massive war with loads of bloodshed!” perhaps not the right time to mention that scenario, comedies not supposed to end in tragedy or mirror those in the world.