Monday, August 25, 2008

Whole Lotta Jimmy!

Hah - the British contribution to last night's Closing Ceremony just cracked me up. It was very low-key compared to the cast-of-thousands hokum that Zhang Yimou and friends had been conjuring up for us, but it had a zestfulness about it that those grand spectacles had lacked. Heck, it had a sense of humour.

In fact, it was downright cheeky - dangerously disrespectful to the current hosts. No foreigner who's experienced life in China could view those scenes of people mobbing the door to a bus (only to shamefacedly withdraw when the cute kid emerges) or allowing someone to walk over a pedestrian crossing unmolested without a hearty laugh. That was spot-on satire. Unseemly jostling when boarding public transport and a murderous disregard of pedestrians on the road are two of this country's grimmest vices (and they have, alas, been very little improved by the pre-Olympic public education programmes here).

As if that weren't pant-wettingly funny enough, we then got Boris the Buffoon receiving the Olympic flag on our behalf. I shouldn't be too hard on the poor chap, since he is a lao tongxue of mine (an 'old study comrade', as the Chinese say - a contemporary at Oxford). However, I like him a lot better as a columnist, TV presenter, or rent-a-celeb, or just as a bloke to have a drink with in the Oxford Union bar (many years ago now); as a politician/national representative he is a perpetual embarrassment. Is he The Worst Dressed Man on the planet? I think it may be so. His clothes are probably of rather fine quality, but they never quite seem to fit; and he wears them so badly. He must be the despair of his tailors. Despite his enormous gut, I really don't think it is impossible for him to button up his jacket. And, my god, he actually walked off stage with his hands in his pockets. Not even his trouser pockets, but his jacket pockets! I don't think I've ever seen anyone so crassly inelegant.

But Boris, Beckham (gosh, didn't that young Chinese volunteer girl who caught the football look like Woody Allen with the Orgasmotron in Sleeper?), the Transformer-bus...... what did any of that matter beside JIMMY PAGE? It was so nice to see the great man riffing away once again. "I thought you were dead."

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