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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 June, 2003, 05:33 GMT 06:33 UK
Pensioner catapulted in space capsule
Mark McGowan rolling across London
Mr McGowan rolled on pavements to improve politeness towards cleaners
An elderly woman is to be catapulted in a 'space capsule' to promote pensioners' rights.

Performance artist Mark McGowan, 34, said he was inspired to do something after seeing an old man being knocked down in the street in south London.

On Tuesday, his volunteer Aida Lipscombe, 71, will get inside a foil-covered, home-made 'rocket' and be catapulted up a ramp at Camberwell College of Art in south London.

Mr McGowan has already made a name for himself by rolling on the pavement for over four miles to encourage politeness towards office cleaners.

He also put a 27lb turkey on his head and walked backwards for 11 miles to raise awareness of obesity.

She is expected to travel "quite far" over the edge into a water-filled container.

I'm not nervous or anything - I've done much worse things in my life
Aida Lipscombe

Mr McGowan says stringent health and safety procedures will be followed.

He told BBC News Online: "A lot of my stuff is about the community, this one is about raising awareness of the elderly.

"I saw this man being pushed over in the road and couldn't believe it, this guy knocked him down because he was in his way."

He got in touch with Age Concern and found out about a group of pensioners and youngsters who meet fortnightly at the Peckham Pulse centre and through that, was introduced to Mrs Lipscombe.

He had 70 letters from pensioners expressing interest in the project and whittled down the hopefuls to seven, but it was her baseball cap and hair beads caught his eye.

Beaded miniskirt

"There are lots of people who push in front of queues and see the elderly and barge them out of the way - we are all going to be there one day.

"I want people to acknowledge we have as much rights as them.

Mrs Lipscombe, from Sydenham Hill, south-east London, seemed very relaxed about the attempt on Monday evening.

"I'm not nervous or anything - I've done much worse things in my life," she said.

She was considering taking her beaded miniskirt for the attempt but said she would probably wear a pair of shorts.

Artist rolls with it
13 Dec 02  |  England

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