SHE'S 85, half Irish, half Breton, smokes a pipe, spits and if you see her lift her skirts run for cover - she’s about to fart.
But the question everyone was asking today was how do you get a 25 feet tall Giant Grandmother into the main room of St George’s Hall? And what about what must be the world’s biggest bed? You can bet that didn’t come from Bensons.
A mixture of French polish and Irish blarney means there are no answers. The giant gran is the first of three to arrive, and will be in St George’s Hall until Friday morning when she awakens from deep slumbers. Video: Mark McNulty/Liverpool City Council
It seems her arrival in the hall was all done by magic, which may be true as nobody saw her go in.
Her lying in state marks one of the UK’s national events to mark the start, a century ago, of World War One.
Over 1m visitors are expected to converge on Liverpool to watch tear-jerking stories unfold as the old matriarch, the Little Girl Giant and their pet dog, pound the streets, courtesy of Nantes theatre company Royal de Luxe.
It has taken 15 months of planning and a team of hundreds of public authority workers to prepare Liverpool for the grand walk, a task involving moving overhead cables, dismantling street furniture and re-configuring traffic junctions.
Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson said while the sight of giants will be a stunning spectacle, the stories will respect the poignancy and sacrifices of the Great War.
"It is a massive coup that these street theatre legends, who are approached on a daily basis to perform in cities all over the world, are eager to return to Liverpool.
“The genius of Royal de Luxe should never be underestimated: not only do they create giant characters they are also masters at tapping into the heart of a city. The show will be memorable, moving and magical."
Camera crews converged on St George's Hall today, pointing to an event likely to attract worldwide attention.
St George’s Hall was the place where, in 1914, a plea was relayed from Lord Kitchener, Britain’s Secretary of State for War, to the men of Liverpool to take up arms.
Rallied by Lord Derby, men from whole streets, factories and businesses answered the call, with 2,800 of them never to return. They became known as the Liverpool Pals, reflecting how neighbours and work colleagues fought alongside each other.
On Friday (July 25) the giants take to the streets – the third is Xolo the giant dog, nearly three meters tall – relating stories passed down through the generations of those Liverpool men who went off to fight.
City traffic managers have warned motorists of major disruptions between Friday and Sunday, with some roads closed for long periods. Visitors have been urged to travel to the city by train or bus.
Claire McColgan, Liverpool’s culture boss, urged visitors to bring a supply of tissues, as the stories will make people weep.
She described the atmosphere during three weeks of rehearsals with the French company at Bramley Moor on the north docks as amazing.
She praised the hundreds of local people who came forward as volunteer stewards.
Jean Luc Courcoult, artistic director and founder of Royal de Luxe said: “Liverpool is a city I love and it is great that we are able to use our giants in this city to commemorate World War One. We have spoken to the families of those who fought and died in that war and our storylines are based on their memories.”
Most of the funding for the Liverpool event has come from central government.
The Giant Grandmother is aged 85, uses a walking stick but sometimes uses a wheelchair to get around. She is described as tough, daring with a mischievous character. She smokes a pipe, spits from time to time and even “breaks wind”. It takes 26 operators, known as Lilliputians, to mechanically move her, using ropes.
The Little Girl Giant weighs 800kg and is made of wood and steel, and requires 22 Lilliputians to operate her. Her hair and eyebrows are made from horse hair and her eyes are made from street lamps.
Xolo the dog is the fastest giant and can run at 4km an hour. He needs 20 operators to move him.
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