Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The shark jumped

The British Cowboy and I were reminiscing the other day about the two great small independent arts cinemas we enjoyed in Oxford - the Penultimate Picture Palace and Not The Moulin Rouge. They were both run by the eccentric idealist Bill Heine - who, in the mid-80s, inserted this huge fibreglass sculpture of a shark into the roof of his house (I've never heard whether the shark is anatomically complete - is there a head, and teeth, in Bill's bedroom, for his private enjoyment only??). I think it was supposed to be some sort of protest against the American bombing raids on Libya at that time; but the shark soon became better known for Bill's protracted battles with the local council over whether he would be allowed to keep it. He won eventually, of course. And a few months ago, the shark was thoroughly cleaned and refurbished, to celebrate its 21st birthday. Congratulations, shark.

I don't go through that part of town very often. And I had supposed that it must have been removed long since (those wonderful cinemas are no longer with us, alas). It's nice to discover that one of the City's quirkiest landmarks is, after all, still going strong. I hope it will last many more years yet.

Thanks to the Cowboy for sharing this link to the shark's very own page, on a rather wonderful little website about all things Headington.


Anonymous said...

Hee hee. Delightfully quirky!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I want to know about the face, too. I wonder if it's mentioned somewhere online (I already read through the Headington account) or if we can find Bill's contact info and ask him.

Anonymous said...

I recall E and I went to visit the shark, way back.

Mmmm, I'd say its got no head. Firstly because it would be a bit grizzly in the bedroom (although maybe thrilling) and secondly look at the size of the beast, would one even be able to get into the bedroom in the first place?!