It is hard to believe that it is a decade since Oscar Wilde and Thomas Vilde took up residence outside Matt O’Flahertys on Williamsgate Street. A gift from the Estonian nation, in that period they have become the iconic face of modern Galway. Tonight a concert of Estonian music will be held to mark the occasion. I caught up with the happy Wildes as they sat outside a shop in the city centre.
DV - OK, gents, how has it been, the first decade? Any highlights?
Oscar - Highlights, my dear chap. Too many bloody highlights. And fake tans and push up bras and hen parties and fat Americans taking their photos between us.
DV - So you don’t like being used as a photo prop.
Eduard - But Oscar it has been guttt, Very guttt that they come to see us. Zese beautiful vimmen, sprawled across us in so many pictures.
Oscar - Edouard, my little Estonian friend with whom I share nothing but a name. All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does, and that is his.
DV - You must welcome the attention though. There are men in Galway who would give their right arm to be so discommoded by hen parties and the likes.
Oscar - I suppose. Who, being loved, is poor?
Eduard - But Oscar, you have all ze best quotes. It is unfair.
Oscar - Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit.
Eduard - Zere you go again. You even have a quote about quotes. Please geeev me a chance. I sometimes feel the poor relation in this partnurrsheep.
DV - You have now become a symbol of Galway, like Padraic O Conaire used to be. Do you fear that, like Padraic, one day you might be shafted off to the museum, never to be seen again? That you will have outstayed your welcome?
Oscar - Yes, dear boy, that is always one’s fear that we are political playthings. When those obese Americans sat on the bench and caused it to break in the middle, we had that ghastly councillor down here, and he wanting nothing else but to get publicity while he was pointing at my crack. Fix Oscar’s crack, he was saying. So, I would not trust them with leaving us here. Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people we personally dislike
DV - Eduard, pardon me by saying this, but you are the less-well known of the two of you. How has this affected your relationship for the past ten years. Is there statue envy?
Eduard - How dare you? You say this with ignorance of my great body of work. I am the author of such books as The War in Mahtra and The Milkman from Mäeküla.
DV - Yes, that may be so, Eduard, but that book, The Milkman from Maekula, sounds like something Brendan Shine would sing, not a classic literary novel. In my experience….
Oscar - Experience is merely the name men gave to their mistakes.
DV - Excuse me, as I was saying. In my experience, people know little about you. Has this affected you or made you more famous for being a statue than a writer?
Eduard - Let mee speek, Oscar. To answer your question. It ees nice to be here, and be talked about…
Oscar: There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.
DV - Are you happy here, Oscar?
Oscar: Yes, it is wonderful here. Here among the stores and the traders, watching the busy-ness of the city. Wondering at the people. Crying is for plain women. Pretty women go shopping. I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.
DV- You have become a meeting place now, Where once people met at Moon’s corner, now it is at the Wilde statues.
Oscar: -Yes, even wandering children who have managed to get separated from their mothers or fathers, they gravitate to us in the hope they will be located. To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.
Eduard - Jeesus Oscar, Oscar, more quotes.
DV: The sculptor has cast you together here for eternity like a sort of bronze Siamese twins. Is this a situation that pleases you both?
Eduard - Oh yes, Oscar is a vonderful companion. Would you say same for me?
Oscar - Well, let me say, I’d never met an Estonian before and maybe there is a good reason for that, but suffice to say a bore is someone who deprives you of solitude without providing you with company.
Eduard - Thank you, Oscar. that was very nice…
DV: Eduard, I don’t think that was… I think perhaps he was being cynical.
Oscar: I am not at all cynical, I have merely got experience, which, however, is very much the same thing.
DV - Would you have preferred to have been located at a different point in the city? Here, for example you are partners with most of the city’s buskers from dusk to dawn. How do you feel about that?
Oscar - The world is a stage and the play is badly cast. That’s all I’ll say about these dreadful buskers and their Snow Patrol covers and they all pretending to be Luke Bloody Kelly….oh give me patience.
Eduard: Yes, ze buskers are gutt mostly, but ze diddly idle do, jessuskrist give me patience. What do they say. A gentleman ees a man who can play ze accordion but doesn’t. Yes?
DV - So together for a decade, are you looking forward to the next 10? What do you hope for?
Eduard - Vee are to bee part of the Kapital of Kultture beed. Us, it is great honour for Estonia, And as we are now City of Feeelum, maybe The Milkman From Maekula can become a majurr movie…
Oscar - Not bloody likely. Maybe with Pat Shortt in the title role. I get Rupert Everett to play my leading men…
DV — Gentlemen, It’s been a pleasure having you...
Oscar - Did you? I couldn’t tell.
To mark the 10th anniversary of the Two Wildes sculpture, there will be a concert of Irish and Estonian music in the Aula Maxima this evening at 8pm.