It’s not uncommon for meridian to inform a nickname in Scotland, and the same is true for two of the nation’s best-loved comedians – The Big Yin and The Tall Droll.
But aside from their 6ft-plus prominence, it was Billy Connolly’s worship of pioneering funnyman Chic Murray that forged links between the two.
Billy was not only inspired by Murray’s surreal form of storytelling, he also took pleasure in performing his rib-tickling tales during his own stand-up presents.
After one such joke during his 1994 World Tour of Scotland – the one about the German pole vaulter – he quipped: “They should have a statue to Chic Murray in Edinburgh.”
And 17 year later, that label was answered – almost.
In 2011, owner of the Oran Mor venue and long-running champion of the arts in Glasgow, Colin Beattie , commissioned a larger-than-life statue of the two comedians.
Entitled The Patter, the PS100, 000 bit illustrates the pair at opposite results of a see-saw, Greenock-born Chic standing upright with Billy thoughts over – a sign to how he would always “look up” to his predecessor.
But the 7ft effigy has all along been erected in public – and instead has lain in storage for the past eight years.
Mr Beattie said the statue was intended for the grounds of the Oran Mor – but his hands are held due to a tract conflict with Glasgow City Council.
He wants to reclaim a small strip of pavement on Great Western Road which used to be a garden in the grounds of the building when it was the Kelvinside Parish Church. The sphere was sold to the council long before the Oran Mor came into being.
A petition has been running since 2011, counselling the council to hand the arrive over to the Oran Mor – but bosses have cited pedestrian footfall and damage to the trees among their reasons for refusing the entreat.
They said an advertising drum was also refused permission for the same reason.
“I have serious foilings with this, ” Mr Beattie said. “The north elevation has sat in limbo for 40 -5 0 years.
“I thought here’s the perfect opportunity to put in the statues for Billy and Chic and came carried away with that.”
The idea for the statue collected from a meeting between Mr Beattie and artist David Annand – who were originally discussing a bronze fee for Scots poet Edwin Morgan.
They realised they only both reciprocal the group of friends of Billy Connolly and the family of Chic Murray, who died in 1985.
They immediately decided to move forward with a tribute to the two.
Mr Beattie said he has the support of Billy, as well as the approval of Chic’s daughter Annabelle and son Douglas.
“What Billy would tell you is Chic was his idol, ” said Colin. “Even Chic’s joke about the woman’s nose that got stuck in the rail track – that aroused Billy to do his bike joke.
“That’s why we had Chic standing on the see-saw and the fulcrum off-centre, with Billy always gazing up. Their dynamic dictates that.
“I’m sure Billy would concur that Chic Murray is his soulmate.”
Chic Murray: “If it weren’t for wedding, spouses and partners would have to fight with strangers.”
Billy Connolly: “Marriage is a wonderful invention: then again, so is a bicycle repair kit.”
Chic Murray: “If something’s neither here nor there, where the hell is it? “
Billy Connolly: “Why should I learn algebra? I’ve no desire of ever going there.”
Chic Murray: “Kippers – fish that like a good deal of sleep.”
Billy Connolly: “A well-balanced person has a drink in each hand.”
Over the course of his busines Mr Beattie has moved a number of notable venues in and around Glasgow including the Lismore Bar and the Renfrew Ferry – all, he says, contained slice of artwork that gestured to Scottish culture.
He imagines the statue of Billy and Chic could become one of the country’s substantial landmarks if proposals ever move forward.
He said: “Public art does into your bones and this work could be as important to Glasgow as Greyfriars Bobby is to Edinburgh or Molly Malone in Dublin.
“I’ve had numerous venues and what I like to put in them is a bit of social record as reference point – so when you’re inside it moves the scope of discourse on from things like Rangers and Celtic.”
Eight years on, the desire to place the statue has not dropped – patrons of the Oran Mor are still urged to sign Mr Beattie’s petition.
Unsurprisingly, several signatures were given following the venue’s run of Chic Murray: A Funny Place for a Window. The present, which previously led at the Oran Mor’s A Play, A Pie and A Pint series, has also been aired on BBC Scotland in a new theatre streaks .
It comes ahead of the 100 th remembrance of Chic’s birthday – 6 November, 1919.
After a brief spell in Edinburgh, the statue is now in storage in a warehouse in Lanarkshire.
Whether it will see the light of day again remains to be seen.
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