LIVERPOOL- As a part of Liverpool's ongoing city of culture celebrations, the organisers have named the centrepiece to the Beatles theme park to be finished later this month: the stuffed body of the late John Lennon.
This unusual tribute, sure to anger many diehard Beatles fans, will mean Lennon's body to be disinterred, stuffed with paxo and put on permanent display near his favourite childhood haunt of Strawberry Field.
The project, entitled Strawberry Fields Forever is the brainchild of Irish artist Ron P. O'Flail, who said he got the idea from watching his mother stuff a turkey at Christmas as a child.
"It made a deep impression. Set me on the road to becoming an artist." said O'Flail, a 22 year old Lennon fan from Dublin "But I never thought I would ever be able to do it to me hero."
The 60s icon, whose solo hits include Working Class Tax Exile and Happy Christmas (Where's my present?), was gunned down in 1980 on a New York street by crazed assassin, Mark Knopfler. Knopfler, currently serving a life sentence in a mediocre band, is said to have approved of the plan.
This plan has been given the full backing of Liverpool local council, the Government and the Lennon estate. It has, to date, received lottery funding in excess of £27 million, with an additional £4 million coming from private donations, but is, by its own admission, "cash strapped" due to lavish expenditure. Stromberg himself is said to have personally profitted to the tune £6.5 Million, which many millions more going to his large entourage -mainly his relatives- for their living expenses.
"Its not about money, it's about art!," said O'Flail mordantly. "But artists must always have big dreams"
He was reluctant to explain where all the money was going for what was, on the face of it, a relatively cheap idea.
"Lennon himself said 'you can celebrate anything you want' so why not stuff him? I thought everyone might think my idea was bonkers so I was hesitant about sharing it. Fortunately everyone loved it."
Not everyone, Ron. Indeed many opponents have been vociferous in their condemnation.
"Its so bloody ghoulish!" said Janice Mcfadden, acting president of the Lennon fan club. "Who on earth wants to see a dug-up corpse, even one as great as John? The fact he's been buried so long means, he'll hardly be a pretty sight, and let's face it, he was hardly a looker even when he was alive."
Stromberg is undeterred by this or even threats by Sir Paul McCartney to bring a lawsuit.
"The body is very well preserved, considering its age."
Jeremy Dodd, a local undertaker and part-time taxidermist, who is actively engaged in the project, confirms this.
"People have strange ideas about taxidermy, based largely on ignorance. We've come a long way from stuffed beavers in the cabinets of Victorian gentlemen."
Jeremy, who is the illegitimate half-brother to legendary comedian Ken Dodd, is said to have trousered £9 million of the fund money, despite not yet having started work.
A spokesperson for Yoko Ono has said "[Yoko] thinks it is a fitting tribute. John would have loved it."