Nan takes the family to the pictures
We’ve all been a bit down since Jood’s had her benefits stopped. Brad’s been telling me about all of these cases he’s found where ATOS have stopped other disabled people’s benefits. So they’ve stopped taking their medication in protest, had heart attacks, committed suicide.
I don’t think it’s going to come to that in Jood’s case, but you never know with young people. She’s definitely got a lot quieter lately. And she was so looking forward to taking part in her dance show. It’s like the sun has gone in and she’s lost in shadows. Brad is fuming about what ATOS, the DWP, and the government are doing to disabled people. ‘At least the Nazis just killed us off quickly,’ he says.
Anyway, we were all getting a bit down in the dumps until I spotted a piece in the Argus. To help celebrate 2012 Westsea council are putting on a free open-air showing of Chariots Of Fire down on the beach.
To be frank, I’m a bit dubious about all the hoop-la. ATOS sponsoring the Paralympics is one thing. G4S taking £57 million for shoddy security is another though. It’s as if the Olympics are sponsoring them.
But I thought to cheer everyone up we should go so we all went last night.
Well, it was free.
I can just about remember when Chariots Of Fire first came out in 1981. The height of the first Tory Recession under Mrs Thatcher. Three million unemployed. Homelessness on the rise. A government that seemed to have lost control.
Nothing much has changed!
And then along comes a film about toffs at Cambridge going off to Paris to take part in the 1924 Olympics.
Lots of shots of silly arses wearing blazers, having jolly Gilbert and Sullivan sing-songs round the piano, and swanning round posh colleges with floppy hair and cigarette-holders.
Like a home movie for the Bullingdon Club.
But then I noticed there were some other bits to the film.
Take Harold Abrahams, for instance. He took part in the 100 and 200 metres in Paris. But because he was the son of a Jewish financier the powers that be in the film – the Masters of Ciaus College and Trinity College – don’t really think he’s the ticket.
He’s just not… Well, he’s just not amateur enough. Nor English enough.
But Abrahams shows that he can win and lose as well as any Englishman.
The other main part character in the film is Eric Liddell. He’s a Scot, an evangelical Christian who refuses to run on a Sunday while the Olympics are on.
Could you imagine anyone at the Olympics doing that now? They’ve probably all signed contracts forbidding them to do anything the organisers don’t want them to do.
Anyway, it was quite a good film, for all of its nostalgic, chocolate-box portrayal of Britain. A more innocent age in some ways. When the Olympics still had something noble about it. I’m not sure there’s much of that left. Brad reckons we like to kid ourselves about fair play, sticking up for the underdog, that it’s all about the taking part.
But I reckon Chariots Of Fire is about more than toffs and track and field, as the Yanks call it. The title comes from Blake’s Jerusalem.
They play it at the end, at Harold Abraham’s Memorial Service:
Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O, clouds unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land!
I wonder if the athletes in the Olympic Village feel like we’ve built Jerusalem for them? Brad says it must feel like a living in a gigantic advert. I reckon it must be more like a fortress. They’ve got the Army, those missiles on the flats, and the no-fly zone. It’s a wonder anyone will get in to see them. A far cry from Paris in 1924.
I wonder if they’ll ever make a movie about London 2012? I wonder what they’d call it?