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Museum of Marco Polo goes to Blackpool

24th September 2013:   I am one of those people who will read absolutely anything – street signs, cereal packets, the back of a shampoo bottle – and so I fell with delight on the  Comedy Carpet, a piece of street art inscribed on to the promenade in Blackpool.  It’s an ocean of jokes, anecdotes and short stories – an airy and light-hearted celebration that beautifully evokes an end of the pier world that has gone.  It is in effect a pavement museum – and takes a shameless delight not only in the jokes but also in the wild fonts and typefaces of the red-top newspapers.

As it happens we were up in Little Sparta, just outside Edinburgh, a couple of weeks ago. This is the garden that the poet Ian Hamilton Finlay carved out of the bare Pentland hills and filled with his concrete poetry. I went because I thought I would love it but as it turned out I only liked it.  It’s true I loved the stone and grass and sheep and sky, but the garden? – well, compared to the Comedy Carpet it felt polite and faded.

We’ve long wanted to create a pavement museum.   Now someone else has made one and as I read the jokes I feel a pang of envy mixed up with admiration as I think, ‘I wish we’d done this.’  By Rachel Morris