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Why the ‘big potato’ is new Eiffel Tower

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Cyprus likes to pride itself on its ancient history, Greek mythology, cultural heritage spanning the dawn of time.

The island was steeped in the relics of civilisation before the modern world began to take shape.

Ironically, a country so protective of its classic origins and the birthplace of Aphrodite (Goddess of Love) should be best remembered for a giant phallic symbol made of plexiglass.

And the story will come to be told of how a four-metre statue in the middle of a field became a wonder of the world.

The Mediterranean island may host medieval castles, UNESCO heritage sites, Roman amphitheatres, rare mosaics and ancient settlements – but the ‘big potato’ has stolen its thunder.

These are all places that Cypriots rarely visit, apart from on a school trip, although the spud-in-the-mud could become the most popular attraction since the stock market crashed.

It would be a stretch to say that Cyprus is a bastion of modern art, avant-garde theatre or splendid urban architecture.

Whatever we did right happened several centuries ago, now the urban landscape is scarred with ugly concrete homes and high rises that town planning neglected to regulate or monitor.

We live in soulless towns without personality or spirit unless it’s to satisfy mass tourism and the wealthy investor.

Even villages that should retain their character are destroyed by haphazard developers where anything goes unless it has to be preserved for its quaintness for tourists to get off the coach and look around.

Aesthetically, Cyprus is a bit of a mess while preserving its past and totally neglecting its future, and nature has to fend for itself.

There is a wild-west feel about town planning in this country, so it is no surprise that a giant potato erected in the red soil village of Xylofagou has become a social media viral sensation.

True to say, the debate or topic of conversation has been the shape of the so-called ‘big potato’ that looks more like a sex toy than something that you would peel for a plate of chips.

Residents of the ‘red soil villages’ that are famous for producing Cyprus new potatoes are not the shy retiring type, and they are certainly proud of their traditions.

But I’m quite sure that when they woke up one day to see a big erect dick out of their window, they didn’t know where to hide their embarrassment.

And if they wanted to pretend it wasn’t there or was a figment of their x-rated imagination, social media was adamant the story did not disappear.

Social media likes nothing better than to have a jolly good laugh at somebody else’s expense, in this instance, a €15,000 homage to the humble spud.

Supposedly, the plan was to make this an instantly recognisable monument to rival the Eiffel Tower or the Statue of Liberty.

If that is the case, the Xylofagou phallus is on the way to achieving that.

Ugly potato

Its admirers and detractors alike flock to the unfinished site to embrace the thing and get a selfie taken next to the ugliest potato in history.

Although it seemed like a good idea to pay homage to the village’s greatest export, residents are now worried it will destroy Xylofagou’s reputation and the value of their real estate.

No Cypriot in their right made wants to be told, “oh, you live next to that big giant penis of a potato”.

Defenders of the eyesore say the work isn’t yet finished, and it should be judged in its entirety because there’s going to be an eating area where you get chips for free while examing the plastic marvel.

Nevertheless, if Xylofagou gets tired of growing potatoes, it can always double up as the world capital of kitsch where weird and wonderful sculptures can be displayed.

I have it on good authority; the next big idea is to erect a giant cucumber, then maybe a carrot…the possibilities are endless.

You can all have a good chuckle at the village’s expense, but when they unearth the ‘big potato’ in 2,000 years, learned archaeologists will be praising the ingenuity of the Cypriot peasant.

They will conduct digs and comprehensive studies on how it took the Cypriot tribe a few millennia to transform phallic cave drawings into three-dimensional post-modern outdoor art.