Tag Archives: Empire

London Olympics 2012 Closing Ceremony: The John Lennon Segment Was Inspired. Thank You.

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

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by Anura Guruge


Related posts:
>>  London Olympics 2012 Closing Ceremony: The Churchill Minute Akin To The Muhammad Ali Blunder — August 14, 2012.
>> Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony: The Muhammad Ali Moment Was A Unmitigated DOWNER! — July 29, 2012.
>> London Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony, Gross, Unnecessary Distortion Of British History — July 28, 2012.
>> London Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony The Complete Musical Playlist — July 31, 2012.



Click image to see YouTube video of the brilliant, inspired John Lennon segment from the London Olympics closing ceremony.

Click image to see YouTube video of the brilliant, inspired John Lennon segment from the London Olympics closing ceremony.


Imagine that!

After screwing up so badly in the Opening Ceremonies with poor Muhammad Ali and the snubbing of the Empire, and then the horrible goof at the start of the Closing Ceremonies with the Winston Churchill faux pas, the London 2012 Olympic organizer got the John Lennon segment just right. Bullseye. A perfect ’10’. Bravo. Read the comments on the (above) YouTube clip. Spot on.

I am so thrilled. So uplifted. So proud. That was a great moment for all of us. Thank you.

The crowd in the stadium knew at once that this was special. The applause was louder, faster and more sustained. It was as if Usain Bolt had set another record.

All that we all wanted to see was real Lennon. No actor. No imitator; like Winston, Lennon is inimitable. To see him at the start on that grainy 1970 video was to capture the true essence of the Beatles and Britain in the 1970s.

The whole segment including the creation of his face was magical. Bravo. The song … immortal. It was John as we knew him and loved him.

I still remember where I was when I heard that he had been shot and had died. I was driving a car, to work, in North London … not that far from where the Olympics were held. I was at an intersection. I was stopped waiting for a break in the oncoming traffic. I had Radio One. The news came on. I was stunned. My legs froze. They say you will always remember where you were when you heard that JFK had been assassinated. Well, I remember that too. We were in Ceylon and my father got a phone call with the news and he said: ‘I am not surprised’. Well, to me it is where I was when I heard Dear John was dead. Yes, I have been to Strawberry Banks in Central Park, NYC to pay my dues. [I have a couple of rare pictures of him here.]


So where was Ringo?

Sir Paul, as is his due, got star billing in the Opening Ceremony. That is how it should be. Here is a YouTube video of that … ‘Hey Jude’.

George, alas, can’t make it. But, Ringo, as far as I know, is still with us and doing fine. So why SNUB him. He may not be a great drummer but he is not a bad guy, and he was a Beatle. I think that it was rude to not have him do something. People still adore him.

But, I will close with one of my favorite Beatles stories. Lennon, in the early 1970s was asked by a music reporter whether he thought Ringo was the best drummer in the world. Lennon, who could play the drums, as could George, replied, brilliantly: ‘Heck, Ringo isn’t even the best drummer in the Beatles‘. That is John Lennon. We got to see him and enjoy him at the Closing ceremonies. Thank you.

London Olympics 2012 Closing Ceremony: The Churchill Minute Akin To The Muhammad Ali Blunder

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

….
……
by Anura Guruge


Related posts:
>> Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony: The Muhammad Ali Moment Was A Unmitigated DOWNER! — July 29, 2012.
>> London Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony, Gross, Unnecessary Distortion Of British History — July 28, 2012.
>> London Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony The Complete Musical Playlist — July 31, 2012.




As with Muhammad Ali, Winston Churchill is one of my all time heroes, one of the undeniable, immortal ‘Greats’. I even named my second Golden after him, ‘Winston’.

When I listen to Winston speak I still get goosebumps. His command of the English leaves me in humbled awe. I have gone on pilgrimage both to his birthplace, the magnificent Blenheim Palace and his burial place in Bladon. Yes, I know that he wasn’t that fond of darkies (like me), but that has never really bothered me. That was a generational thing. Something that he grew up with and as. I don’t think it was personal or vicious. It was a different age. Yes, I know he was not very fond of another of my heroes, Gandhi (and called him some amusing names). But, ‘race’ in Britain is different and, of course, I am very qualified to talk about it having grown up as a non-white in Britain, starting in 1969. I do know this for a fact. If not for dear Churchill I will be writing this blog in German! Period.

The Olympic organizers forgot the most fundamental adage about Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, KG, OM, CH, TD, PC, DL, FRS, Hon. RA. He is inimitable.

So to have an actor, Timothy Spall, do a pitiful imitation of him was uncalled for. Unbecoming. Unnecessary. Ditto with the Ali moment. What were they thinking? Yes, I saw “The King’s Speech” — and loved it. That doesn’t mean that he should have played Winston. I feel bad for him. He does NOT sound anything like Winston. He sounds like he has a mouthful of the proverbial British marbles in his mouth. That isn’t how Winston sounds.

You can’t try and imitate Winston. He stands alone and will always stand alone – a lion, a giant, an artist, a writer, a father, a fighter, a man.

Yes, of course, Winston must have uttered lines from Shakespeare. But, to portray him doing the ‘I love this island‘, Caliban’s speech from ‘The Tempest‘ was stupid.

And AGAIN we go back to my theme from the Opening Ceremonies. The need for political correctness. Yes, of course, he can’t offend the Germans.

What we should have had ideally was a 3D hologram of the REAL Winston created from all of the b&w film clips we have of him.

Failing that they should have just projected THE SPEECH onto the large TVs … ‘We shall fight them …’ That to me would have been appropriate. The Olympics is all about fighting.

Or THE FINEST HOUR SPEECH. I love that speech. I go and read it every once in awhile for inspiration.

“Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, This was their finest hour.”

That would have been appropriate. The London Olympics was a HUGE SUCCESS. Bravo. It wasn’t the Battle of Britain, but it was one of our finest fortnights.

So, let me conclude by letting you actually listen to the inimitable, GREAT MAN, Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, KG, OM, CH, TD, PC, DL, FRS, Hon. RA.

You really should listen to this speech. It is HISTORY. Not for that we would all be talking German.



London Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony: The Muhammad Ali Moment Was A Unmitigated DOWNER!

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

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by Anura Guruge


Related post: London Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony, Gross, Unnecessary Distortion Of British History — July 28, 2012.



From YouTube. Click to access YouTube video.

Do not get me wrong. I am a HUGE Muhammad Ali fan. I adore the man. I first came to the U.S. in 1967. He, then Cassius Clay, was very much in the news. He was iconic. He was brilliant. As with so many of my age, boxing was synonymous with him. He is one of my very few non-cricketer sporting heroes, Nadal, Ashe, Gareth Edwards, J.P. R. Williams and Jean-Claude Killy probably being the others (I having worn a red cap that said ‘Killy’ on it for nearly 20 years of my skiing life).

I cried when Ali appeared at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics to light the flame.

I still cry when I see that clip. To me that was one of the greatest of Olympic moments.

The World should always remember Ali and the Olympics in terms of his historic win in Rome in 1960 and Atlanta in 1996. Period.


Having ‘Muhammad Ali’ appear towards the end of the London 2012 Opening Ceremony, to symbolically touch the Olympic flag, was unnecessary, out-of-context, stupid and above all a HUGE DOWNER.

I did NOT recognize Ali. Check the video above.

When I was told it was Ali, I was shocked, depressed and embarrassed.

To make it worse, some NBC ‘twittering-head’ idiot was twerping away about it being the ‘unmistakable Muhammad Ali‘!

That was a HUGE mistake.

That was NOT my Muhammad Ali. To see the wheelchair behind him was sad; my mother too had Parkinson’s but died before she got to that stage of infirmity.

Poor Ali. He had no idea where he was or what he was supposed to be doing.

The 8 august flag carriers looked palpably uncomfortable. One, I think it was the ‘charitable’ lady from Brazil, gave Ali’s arm a squeeze as she left.

What were they thinking?

This was the second embarrassing faux pas of the Ceremony — ignoring the Empire was the other.

I have listened to the Americans rave about the director Danny Boyle. Most know him from Slumdog Millionaire. If you remember that, it had some strange, even gruesome scenes. I bet most of the twits on NBC have never seen Trainspotting, his first movie. That was one heck of a strange and dark movie. To me the Opening Ceremony was like Trainspotting.

From ‘2.bp.blogspot.com’

There was ABSOLUTELY NO need to have Muhammad Ali there. He has no real connection with London, other than getting knocked down there, for the first time in his life, by Henry Cooper.

So was this AN INSIDER JOKE on poor Ali and the Americans? Bring Ali to London, those of us who were there will know that this was his first fall. Boyle sure is capable of cruelty such as that.

This was wrong. I am furious. We as Brits are better than this. Muhammad Ali is and will be one of the greatest figures of the 20th century. He was A MAN.

I really want to forget that stupid moment. Let us remember Muhammad Ali from the glory of 1996.

Click for YouTube video.

London Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony, Gross, Unnecessary Distortion Of British History

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

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by Anura Guruge


The British Empire, in PINK, On Which The Sun Never Set


I watched the start of the Opening Ceremony from London last night (while simultaneously DVRing it) with growing consternation, and I am sure part of it was the usual, lopsided, commercial-ridden ‘we don’t have a clue‘ coverage by NBC.  For  a start I wish they wouldn’t keep on chirping that London is the first city to hold 3 Olympics. There is a word missing, and that word is ‘modern’. London is the first city to hold 3 modern [i.e., post 1908] Olympics. The original Olympics were held in Greece, every 4 years, for centuries.

Iron Bridge

For those of you who haven’t sussed it out yet, I am a Brit, a very proud and loyal one at that. So I do know a bit or two about British history. Yes, I have climbed the real Glastonbury Tor. I have made a pilgrimage, in 1978, to ‘Iron Bridge‘ the birthplace of the British Industrial Revolution. I still watch, thanks to Dish, at least 45 minutes of cricket nearly every day. So, the themes at the start of the Opening Ceremony were not alien to me.

I thought the agrarian period was well depicted, but I was waiting for the Knights and King Arthur.

Then, with a cacophony of over-the-top noise, that we did listen in 5-in-1, I was amazed, or to use the British expression, ‘gob smacked’ to see the Industrial Revolution and mention of WW I. OK. Yes, I saw a skeletal white ship in the background, most likely an illusion to Irish immigration.

But, hold on.

What happened to our EMPIRE? Naval supremacy. The Virginia Plantation. The Colony that we lost. Canada, India, Australia, Ceylon, South Africa and New Zealand.

It was the Empire that put the Great in Britain. I am a product of the Empire.

I am appalled. This was taking political correctness to unnecessary lengths. You only had to look around to see all the signs of the Empire. Britain is a true rainbow nation, we saw folks and kids in all colors and hues. That was and that still is the Empire.

I am offended. I am bummed. I am embarrassed. How could THEY do this to ME?

I wish my mother was alive! She used to have a private phone number for the Queen. Yes, they had met a few times and my mother had this beyond belief ability to get private phone numbers from VIPs. She had a little pink address book with private phone numbers for quite a few Heads of State. And, being my mother, she didn’t have a problem using them when she needed. Well, IF my mother was alive I would have told her to call the Queen and complain on my behalf.