Why are people proud of something that is an accident of birth? I’ve never really “got” patriotism. Sure, I get as worked up about the England football team as the next overgrown schoolboy, but that’s about as far as it goes.
Don’t get me wrong, I love living in Britain, and London in particular, and there are a lot of great things about the country.
But it’s only twice in my life that I have I felt truly proud to be British, and both times involved “Chariots Of Fire”. The music is just so damn evocative … (written by Vangelis, a Greek!)
The first time was when I saw the film at the old Elephant And Castle Odeon in 1981 (on a double bill with “Gregory’s Girl”).
The second time was during last night’s incredible Olympics Opening Ceremony.
Fourteen hours after it finished and I’m still a little too overwhelmed to properly digest it all, so I will leave that to a future blog. But I will say that Danny Boyle included all the things that make me .. gulp .. proud to be British!
For now, with the Lympics in full flow on Day 1, here is the first part of my Olympic Top Twenty countdown.
Now I could have gone all obvious but I chose not to. At least, not here.
Check out Tony’s Really Obvious Jam For Olympics Week if its obvious you want!
No, I’ve gone for one song relating to each of the participating sports.
Now there are technically more than twenty sports in the Olympics. But I’ve limited it on the following grounds.
1. Nobody has ever written a song about handball, neither are they likely to.
2. Including Judo would involve excrutiating puns that are below even me, such as Smokey Robinson’s “You Really Got A Hold On Me”, and I’m after something different.
3. Beach volleyball is not a sport and you should all be ashamed of yourselves for watching it. If its scantily clad people with beautiful bodies you want, then try the Athletics, the Swimming or indeed, the Rest Of The Internet.
And so to part one, numbers 20 to 16.
20 – Equestrianism
Specifically Dressage, which has fascinated me today (albeit only for a few minutes).
It basically is exactly what the song says. Horses. Dancing. How cool is that?
Not a huge fan of the Bunnymen tbh although I did see them supporting the Teardrop Explodes at Sheffield University around 1979 or so.
Unfortunately I was too drunk to fully appreciated two of the most influential bands of the next few years. Just say no, kids.
19 – Taekwondo
I know nothing about Taekwondo other than there is quite a lot of kick-boxing in it.
I also know nothing about this band, but this song is a brilliant piece of nu-prog.
18 – Fencing
Derived from the highly dangerous activity of French noblemen settling disagreements by duelling. Pistols or swords? Well, if my opponent chose swords, I’d definitely go for pistols.
One of my least favourite of all the Olympic sports, but this gets in because this song by Tenpole Tudor is fantastic – years before singer Ed Tudor-Pole achieved greater fame as Richard O’Brien’s successor on “The Crystal Maze”.
17 – Archery
I was at Sheffield University around the time ABC first charted, and Martin Fry was a regular figure around the campus. He once tried to push in front of me in a newsagent’s, but I stood my ground.
This is from “The Lexicon Of Love”, what a great first album that was.
I’m loving Jonathan Agnew’s commentary on the Archery from Lord’s. The man can make anything sound momentous and interesting, in a very silly British way. Only thing missing is summaries from Vaughnie and Tuffers.
This is a song called “Let’s Wrestle” by a band called Let’s Wrestle. It concerns wrestling.
Superb, funny, ballsy band with great tunes and the odd excellent turn of phrase. Their first album was called “In The Court Of The Wrestle Let’s”, to which all old King Crimson fans will nod knowingly.
One of the top wrestling nations is Kazakhstan. When you’re watching the wrestling, something to think about is that all the competitors in the ancient Greek Olympics were naked. Go on, imagine that.
Next up, the countdown from 15 down to 11. Some absolute classics in there. See you then. Comments welcome, it’d make a change from the spammers.