Scott Illman, landlord of The Distillers pub in Fulham, climbed the fourth plinth today to advertise his business. Dressed in a town crier’s costume and sporting a bell (which he then broke), he sang the praises of his establishment to bemused art fans. It did not go down well. Hecklers told him to stop using the soapbox for commercial gain, demanding that he get down. But Illman stood firm.
Keith Ryan, group editor of contract publishing here at Caspian Publishing (and fourth plinth addict), was a witness to the spectacle. He gives his report exclusively to Real Business: "A man dressed as a town crier took to the Fourth Plinth," he says. "After ringing (and breaking) his bell, he did what town criers do best: he advertised his pub. By shouting. In rhyme.
"As he went on for a bit, rhyming (badly) about his pub, people milling about below the plinth started to boo/heckle. This seemed to put Town Crier Man off as he gave up Town Crying and took to Town Sitting Down. Possibly Town Sulking. It wasn’t clear.
"Nonetheless, in the great British tradition of still talking even when there’s a crowd telling you to shut up or when no-one’s listening, he stood up and explained (shouted town cried ) that he was a small businessman and in these recessionary times it’s important to support your local businesses. Instead of going to Tesco or whatever. And even though you may not be local to his pub, it would be a good idea to visit his pub because it’s a good pub in these tough times. Did I mention the pub "He received a round of what can only be described as polite tennis applause from the dozens or so people who could make out what he was saying. It’s a strange tale of doing business in Britain today." Twitter has been on fire with comment from observers, hashtag spammers and social commentators alike:
@PlinthWatch says: "The fact that ad-shouting towncrier’s leafleting staff have disappeared off to the caff isn’t a great advertisement for their service, is it?"
@bobathon moaned: "Fourth plinth is now occupied by a man advertising a pub chain. I feel sorry for London. And Gormley.
Well, they say all publicity’s good publicity and Illman’s certainly getting his five minutes (or one hour!) worth of ill-fame.