Caught In His Act
Inspired by an earlier article in this august interweb platform digital outlet, reader Sir Cuss Lovva has written to share with other interested parties a treasured portrait of famed theatrical "freak" Archibald Manx-Legge which he keeps in his downstairs "utility room". Manx-Legge, Dorset's first and oldest three-legged county cartwheel champion and who died recently at the age of 84, is to be buried in Little Bredy next Wednesday.
A collector of theatre memorabilia, Sir Cus will be no stranger to fans of Dorset TV's popular Compulsive Insanitary Hoarders series wherein health inspectors are filmed battling with collectors whose habits have "got seriously out of hand". He has featured in several editions of the programme, including, most memorably, the Extreme Compulsive Insantirary Hoarders Christmas Special in 2017 in which he was involved in a tug of war with inspectors over an artificial limb [once the property of World War II ace Douglas Bader-Meinhoff]. The portrait of Archibald Manx-Legge has survived several culls and still holds pride of place alongside a box of toenail clippings thought to have belonged to a young Celia Johnson.
Painted in about 1956 at the height of Archibald's fame, the portrait is a rare study by Spanish artist and freak painter extraordinaire Inna Propriate. It depicts Archibald adopting his characteristic "tripod stance" in which he leans backwards on his third limb in imitation of a "gentleman perched on his shooting stick": a trick with which he was wont to startle the ladies throughout the 1950s.
Much-cherished by Sir Cuss, whose family acquired it more than 50 years ago, the picture is unquestionably unique and Sir Cuss is said to be "hugely attached to it to the extent that he thinks little of what its monetary value might be". Consequently, his daughter says, she is willing to entertain any reasonable offer above £5.