I blame Twitter. I don’t think I’d heard of One & Other until one of my Facebook friends, Ben Norwood (aka mittfh), started tweeting regularly about what was going on on the plinth. Turns out artist Anthony Gormley had had the bright idea of getting the fourth, empty plinth in Trafalgar Square occupied by a different person every hour for one hundred days. And each person could do what they liked up there, within reason. Okay, fair enough, but what’s that got to do with me? Well, nothing at all to begin with; I’m no good at heights, and how could I compete with Thriller??

But then it struck me: I could use the time to promote the sport I love, orienteering. I’d have to think of an arty way to do it, but, never mind, I emailed in my application. I had a sneaky feeling that I’d be successful, even though there must be something like ten applicants for every place, but when the draw was made for September I wasn’t on the list. But then while we were away in Hungary the email came: someone had dropped out, and I was in!

You have to choose three words to describe yourself, and, being a paid-up member of the awkward squad, I chose the phrase “The unholy trinity”. This is a reference to
my being a son, husband and father (Sorry, brother, I’ve missed you out. What comes next after “trinity”?) and to my (lack of) beliefs. But apart from that I’d already made a decision to leave politics and philosophy out of my “performance”. Just as well, my appearance is on September 11th, the infamous 9/11, and I think it wise to steer well clear. I dare say some of the other “plinthers” on Friday will take a different view.

Anyway, with the help of the British Orienteering Association and several of its members in London (thanks Helen!), I’ve found a way of (sort of) turning orienteering into an artform, and anyone who’s in the Square on Friday afternoon will also be able to join in. They can also take part, like I am, in the City of London race the next morning, though doing so is leaving me a real headache: I’m organising the Black Country Championships at Himley Hall, near Dudley, on Sunday morning, so it’s not the best time to be out of town for two days!

Turns out I’m not the only orienteer to get an hour up there: Roger Williams from down Milton Keynes way orchestrated some night orienteering when he was a plinther a couple of weeks ago but I have the benefit of daylight! I hope it isn’t too windy…

If you can, tune in on Friday at, and join me at Himley on Sunday, where you can watch the experts in action and have a go yourself.

Adrian Bailey