Iconic Statue that's only a Replica?

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June 4th 1964
Published: January 15th 2019
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1964 Diary Entry

"The next morning we got up and dressed and went down to breakfast. After breakfast we started to pack for that day we were leaving for Copenhagen. At about 11 o'clock we caught a taxi to the airport. When we got there we had our baggage checked and then we went into the flight waiting room. Soon afterwards we were called aboard our S.A.S aircraft. When we got in we fastened our seatbelts and pre-pared for take off. Then we took off. We slowly rose and levelled off. By that time we were well above the clouds so I couldn't see anything. About half an hour later we started to go down. Finally we saw Denmark. Then we landed. At the airport we went through customs and passport control. Then we got a taxi to the Imperial hotel. By the way it was pouring with rain for a change. When we got to the hotel we had a look at our very nice room and then we went for a walk in the rain. First of all we walked up the shopping street which only pedestrians are allowed to use. In this street Mum bought a set
Tivoli GardensTivoli GardensTivoli Gardens

Note the tie....
of six ashtrays. Then we walked on. It was freezing and still raining. We tried to get a taxi back to the hotel but they were all full. Finally we walked back and when we got there we all got into hot baths. After we'd all had baths we went down to a cafeteria where we had dinner. After dinner we went back to the hotel and got into bed.

The next morning the sun was shining so we got up and went down to breakfast. After breakfast we went for a walk down to the neck of land between Zealand and the other island. We walked along this water and while walking we crossed many canals. Mummy left us for she was going to have her hair done. Dad and I walked on until we came to the Royal Palace. After this we went to try and find the fish market but a shop keeper told us that it had moved. When we had found this out Dad and I went back to the hotel to have hair-cuts. After we'd finished we went and met Mum. After that we walked to the Tivoli Gardens where we had lunch. After lunch we walked all around the gardens and after that we went to blowers (sic) monument. There we got on a bus for we were going on a tour. First of all we went to the meat market and from there we went to the fish market. At the market we got on a boat for we were doing a harbour tour also. We went past some factories and then past Our Saviour's Church. After that we went into the harbour where all the boats are. Finally we got off at the "Little Mermaid". Then we climbed on the bus and went to a fountain some distance further on. After that we went to the Royal Palace and then to Hans Anderson house where he lived while in Copenhagen. After that we went back to the hotel. From there we went to the Tivoli Gardens where we had dinner. After dinner we went back to the hotel and got into bed.

The next morning we got up and had breakfast and then we caught a train for we were going up to Elsinore a little town up on the coast. It took us about 1 hour and 1/2 to get up there and when we got there we looked for Hamlets Castle. Finally we found it and then Dad paid some money and we went inside. There we saw lots of rooms, a chapel, and a museum of ships starting at Hamlets time and finishing at the present day. After seeing this we went back to the station where we had lunch and caught the train to the Little Mermaid. When we got there I took a photo and then we went and had tea at a big restaurant. After that we caught a bus back to the hotel. From there we went to the Tivoli Gardens where we had dinner. After dinner we went back to the hotel and got into bed."

I think my enthusiasm for writing diary entries was now starting to run out completely, and it seems that the sections of the entries describing flights to our next destination had now become a copy and paste of the entry for the previous destination, with only the name of the destination changed. These were the days of real copy and paste, generally involving use of carbon paper, a pair of scissors and a tub of glue. I'm not sure we had any of these invaluable tools with us, so I'm glad to see that even if I couldn't be bothered inventing any new sentences, I at least went to the effort of writing the old sentences out again in longhand.

I'm not entirely sure who Mum was buying the ashtrays for, or whether they were just souvenirs. I think I do remember a set of ashtrays with pictures of the Little Mermaid and other Copenhagen icons on them being on display at the family home. I hope she wasn't buying them for Dad. I doubt it somehow. Dad smoked but Mum didn't, and I'm not entirely sure she was completely happy with his habit. I remember her telling someone that Dad had once tried to give up, but he then got so bad tempered and hard to live with that Mum told him to abandon the idea and start smoking again (Dad was normally very even tempered). I wonder how Dad got by on all our flights. These were the very long forgotten days of "smoking" and "non smoking" sections on planes, and I don't remember which of the two sections we sat in. I'm not sure it would have made all that much difference. There was never any sort of barrier between the smokers and those of us who preferred to breathe cleaner air, and if you happened to be sitting in a non-smoking row anywhere even remotely close to a smoking row, you got to inhale just as many disgusting fumes as you would have if you'd been sitting right in amongst all the filthy puffers.

I'm glad to note that we all got our hairs cut, or in Mum's case "done". I very much suspect that this was in preparation for catching up with our relatives in England. In my conservative parents' minds it wouldn't have done at all to turn up looking scruffy. If the picture of me wearing a tie at the Tivoli Gardens is anything to go by it seems that this even extended to making sure that I was practising looking the part. It seems that no stone was going to be left unturned in my parents' efforts to make sure that appropriate dress and hair standards were being maintained.

I've got very distinct memories of the Tivoli Gardens, which is no great surprise given that we seem to have eaten just about every meal there other than breakfast. As with other destinations, it seems that if we found an acceptable restaurant we just kept going back there over and over again. We might have seemed adventurous, but this apparently didn't extend to the culinary aspect of our travels. I read now that the Tivoli Gardens houses the world's second oldest amusement park, which was established way back in 1843. I'd never thought of the Danes as being a particularly fun loving lot, but it seems that I may have been mistaken. The world's oldest amusement park is apparently also in Denmark, in the town of Klampenborg about ten kilometres up the coast north of Copenhagen.

It seems that the "blowers monument" we visited was actually an iconic bronze statue of two lur blowers atop a large column. I read that a lur is a curved horn which can be up to two metres long. Lurs have apparently been around since the bronze age and have been used at various times to "marshal the troops and to frighten the enemy". It seems that they're curved to make them easier to carry, and so that they can be directed appropriately to avoid inadvertently deafening innocent bystanders. I would have thought that if you were really worried about this you would just blow them a bit more gently, but who am I to question thousands of years of Danish history. As I sit here in my study being deafened for the third time today by my manic next door neighbour's leaf blower, it's reassuring to know that this monument wasn't instead some misguided dedication to that particular breed of blower. I'm digressing here, but I think that leaf blowers should be banned. All they do is redistribute rubbish from one location to another whilst making obscene amounts of noise in the process. That's enough ranting for now. The monument was erected in 1914 as a gift to the city from the Carlsberg Foundation in memory of the centenary of the birth of the Carlsberg Founder, a Mr JC Jacobsen. The Carlsberg Foundation is clearly big in Copenhagen, and it seems I may have been a tad hasty in assuming that Carlsberg was all about beer. The Foundation owns 51% of the Brewery, but it also funds, amongst other things, the Carlsberg Laboratory, a national history museum, an art museum, and a range of social initiatives. I see I managed to take a picture of the Carlsberg Beer Museum, but I'm fairly sure we didn't go there. Apart from possible restrictions on nine years olds visiting a brewery to taste and consume vast quantities of beer, Dad wasn't really into beer; whiskey and soda was more his thing.

I remember being particularly struck by how small the Little Mermaid was. I'm not quite sure why I found this so surprising. If it wasn't small it would presumably have been called The Big Mermaid, or perhaps just The Mermaid, although I guess those titles might have missed the point of the association with great Dane Hans Christian Andersen's iconic story. The other thing that seemed a bit sad was that the mermaid was set against a background of shipyards and other distinctly unattractive industrial buildings, which certainly detracted from the childlike wonder of the original HCA story. It was apparently originally unveiled in 1913, so perhaps the shipyards and chimneys weren't there then. It's had a fairly chequered history over the journey. Its head was sawn off by "politically oriented artists" in April 1964. The head was never retrieved, but my photo seems to indicate that they managed to seamlessly weld on an appropriate substitute before we arrived a couple of months later in early June. There have also been several other attacks on it over the years. It's been doused with paint a few times, it was blown into the harbour by explosives in 2003, and in 2004 it was draped in a burqa in protest against Turkey's application to join the European Union. If the ever reliable Wikipedia is indeed to be relied on, it seems that the original has always been held by the artist's heirs at an undisclosed location, so the statue on display is actually only a copy; there are also at least thirteen other exact replicas on display at a range of locations around the world. Mum and Dad certainly never mentioned anything about this issue, and I suspect that they and most of the other millions of the mermaid's visitors over the years have been blissfully unaware that they're only looking at a copy. At least there's not a entrance fee, or I suspect a few of the more disgruntled amongst them might have been tempted to ask for their money back. I wonder if any other of the world's iconic statues on display are really only copies. I guess it might be a bit hard to hide copies of the Statue of Liberty, but Michelangelo could conceivably have made a few extra Davids, and then hidden the original away in some random basement in Florence as backup in case someone decided to take to the museum's display copy with a hacksaw.

I remember looking across the strait from Elsinor to Sweden which I now see was only about four kilometres away. I'm not sure that Shakespeare featured too strongly on the primary school curriculum, so I suspect I probably didn't realise at the time that Hamlet was a fictional character. His supposed castle, otherwise known as Kronborg Castle, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There's apparently been a castle of some sort on the site since 1420, although it ceased being a royal residence in 1785. It's main claim to fame is as the setting for Hamlet. The play was first staged there in 1816 to mark the 200th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, and there have been many subsequent stagings starring notables such as Laurence Olivier and more recently Jude Law. There's been a lot of inconclusive speculation over the years about whether Shakespeare ever visited the Castle. I'm thinking he probably didn't, on the basis that if he'd toured all twelve countries in which I read his 37 plays are set, which include places as far flung as Libya, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria, I doubt he would have had much time to do a lot of actual writing.

One of my very enduring memories of Copenhagen is of the Beatles arriving there on the last day of our visit, 4 June 1964. I remember Mum telling me that she thought that the Danes were way too cultured and intelligent to be interested in these four long-haired, talentless yahoos, but she was then a bit surprised to find that there was in fact a great deal of interest in their tour. Mum had been a piano teacher, and was only ever interested in classical music, so she had a fairly strong bias against any sort of modern music, particularly as it usually came associated with what she regarded as ridiculously rebellious behaviour, hairstyles and clothing. I'm not sure Dad was too fussed either way. Our next stop was to be England where we were visiting Mum's sister my Auntie Beth. She was a lot younger than Mum and I think she might have been a bit of a rebel in her time. She didn't have any children of her own, and used to take great delight in sending me and my three cousins Beatles' records as Christmas presents, much to the disgust of Mum and other conservatively minded members of Mum's family. I still think that the main reason she did it was to have a dig at all their conservative tastes. I sound like I'm having a go at my poor old Mum here. I'm not. Both Mum and Dad were wonderfully loving, caring and supportive parents; they were just very conservative...


15th January 2019

Great article. As someone have just starting out in the world of blogging, I need all the tips I can get. I am so grateful for some simple, easy to implement advice.
15th January 2019

Little Mermaid
Thanks for your kind words. Blogging was my wife's idea, as she thought it would be good to have some sort of record of our travels. I now love it. I just write whatever comes into my head, however stupid.....
16th January 2019

I was surprised that you only ate at Tivoli...
and didn't ride the amusement park attractions. I was also there in 1964. I wonder if we passed each other!
17th January 2019

I might have seen you if I hadn't been too busy eating..... I think I did go on some of the rides; just don't have any photos to prove it.

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