IMAGE: From left to right, Prince Charles’ leftover chunk of bread and butter pudding, Michael Winner, and the morsel of lemon drizzle cake he didn’t consume. Photo: Apex via The Guardian.
A charming article in today’s Guardian simultaneously alerts us to the existence, and plight of, the Museum of Celebrity Leftovers.
Founded by artists and former cafe owners Michael and Francesca Bennett, and inspired by the crust of a cheese and tomato sandwich left on the plate by photographer David Bailey, the museum consists of “a small decorative shelf covered with petite domes, all of which contain a morsel of food or wrappings.”
The Guardian catalogues twelve of the twenty-six specimens in the collection, including the smallest: “a speck of croissant left by the actor John Woodvine,” who is known (if at all) for his role in An American Werewolf in London.
Other treasures include a piece of musician Pete Doherty’s cheese and pesto toastie, “a little brittle, no mould;” a “chickpea from a mixed salad, desiccated,” from the lunch of a former staff member who came fourth on The Weakest Link; and a “tiny piece of bread and butter pudding, no mould,” left by the heir to the throne himself, Prince Charles.
Although Michael Bennett tells The Guardian that the museum is “a bit of seaside fun,” it somehow also seems to me to be a wonderful revival of the medieval religious tradition of the relic, transformed for a twenty-first century in which food porn and minor celebrity gossip have replaced hymns and Bible readings as our pervasive media environment.
IMAGE: A collection of thirty-nine saintly relics, individually wrapped in cloth and labeled, found in the back of a twelfth-century portable altarpiece at the British Museum. Relics are apparently divided into three distinct classes: body parts are first class; an object or a part of an object owned or touched by the saint are second class; and third class relics “are made by touching an object (typically a small piece of cloth) to either a first or second class relic,” meaning that there is no limit on the quantity of third class relics that can be made. Under this schema, celebrity leftovers would be second class relics.
Just as a scrap from St. Joseph’s cloak or the chalice from which St. Edmund drank provide an inspiring and tangible reminder that saints were also once flesh-and-blood humans who drank wine and wore clothes, so too does Michael Winner’s leftover crumb of lemon drizzle cake provide a physical tie to an otherwise extraordinary figure.
IMAGE: Ben Affleck and Hugh Grant eating, from a Huffington Post slideshow entitled “Celebrities Eating!”
Indeed, the fact that the rest of the lemon drizzle cake was transmuted into Michael Winner’s actual flesh and blood adds to the frisson of contact with the remainder. Even the Museum’s focus on the mould-free status of most of the leftovers adds to the sense that they, like St. Teresa’s finger or St. Catherine Laboure’s blue eyes, are miraculously incorruptible and thus filled with healing powers.
IMAGE: St. Teresa’s finger on display at the Convent in Avila.
Sadly, the Bennetts have now sold their Kingsand, Cornwall, cafe, and its new owners didn’t want to keep the museum running. “Now it sits,” reports The Guardian, “unviewed, in a spare bedroom,” waiting for the right person to pick up the baton:
If anyone would like to take on the Museum of Celebrity Leftovers, it’s up for grabs. They don’t want any money for it, just a good home.