Tag Archives: The Jam

Why Bradley Wiggins is so important

I have admired Bradley Wiggins CBE (that’s Commander of the British Empire, he got upgraded from Officer you see) for about 8 years. Truly. He’s more ‘Come on’ than ‘Yeehaw’ if you will. My admiration morphed a little bit more towards full on adulation in Beijing in 2008 when he over celebrated post Gold medal and got in a bit of a scrape with the Chinese authorities. I voted for him for BBC Sports Personality of the year that year, sadly he came nowhere. I think it will be a different story this December though. Here was a sportsmen who stuck to his game and in so doing eschewed precisely everything that the cult of celebrity seems to demand. And that is why I think he is so important to all of us.

Born in Belgium and with an Australian father, he moved to Britain when he was 2.  That is sort of irrelevant but I thought I would add it in. I have never had the pleasure of meeting Wiggo, but I hear that he is the life and soul of any party, self-deprecating and just plain funny. He loves fashion (Fred Perry over Lacoste ) always wears his hair in a Mod style and loves music, like many of us Brits, citing Pete Townshend and Paul Weller as musical icons. I can see Wiggo also is a complex character(aren’t we all darling) playing out maybe 3 of the 4 Jimmys in Quadrophenia. He is certainly a tough guy (Roger Daltrey), a romantic (John Entwistle) and at times a bloody lunatic (Keith Moon). Maybe he also sees himself as a beggar and a hypocrite (Pete Townshend), but we certainly don’t see him that way.  You could see him singing away to himself ‘Cut My Hair’ or ‘Going Underground’ whilst riding like a nutter on his bike.

I suppose I like his down to earth approach. His quote about the Olympics ‘it’s great it comes around every 4 years and it’s a nice thing to do’ sums up his attitude. Upon winning the Tour de France, and in so doing, being the only British rider ever to do so, and the first person ever to win the Tour and an Olympic Gold Medal in the same year his interview with the French media is legendary. He has learned to speak French, but when asked ‘how he felt after winning’, he slipped back into English and simply answered, ‘I cannot express my emotions at winning The Tour in French, sorry.’

And so to the Olympics 2012. Wiggo and his team mates bravely rode their hearts out in the Road Race to try and get Mark Cavendish a Gold Medal. Sadly, that wasn’t to be. 3 days later, Wiggo won the Time Trial and took his 4th Olympic Gold Medal. The crowds were out in force for both races, given there were no need for tickets, over 300,000 lining the roads of London and Surrey for both races. The atmosphere was highly charged and it has to be one of the best ever events held in the UK, alongside the Opening Ceremony of course.  In the hours and days following Bradley’s win, the media predictably wanted a piece of Wiggo. My mouth went dry when I read that ‘public relations guru’ Max Clifford (I must look up that four letter word ‘guru’ later) felt that Wiggo would be worth £30M in the next couple of years. Fortunately, Mr Wiggins has said that he will simply go back to Wigan, where he now lives, and get back to his family and the next chapter of his life, which hopefully will involve more cycling. He hates the ‘cult of celebrity’ and all it stands for, something that will chime with many of us I suspect.

He has been one of many Olympians for years now who have demonstrated the right way of taking part and winning or losing. Dedication, grit, humility and grounded, all of our Olympians have defined what sports people should be about. Let’s hope that the children and young people of the UK look to them as role models, rather than the overpaid and arrogant sportspeople who occupy our screens week in week out in non-Olympic years. Let’s also realise that all of us have a mad moment now and again, after all none of us are perfect are we?

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#oneaday 16: NEDS – To be someone is a wonderful thing?

I watched N.E.D.S last night and it was absolutely brilliant and I say that having seen some amazing films so far this year and the back end of last year including The King’s Speech, The Social Network, Black Swan, 127 Hours, Another Year, Get Low,  Made in Dagenham, Barney’s Version, Four Lions, The Wildest Dream and of course Inception. But if you are British, went to school in Britain, were ever in a gang, firm or crew, or wanted to be in one, and above all wanted to ‘be someone’, whilst wanting to be yourself, this film is a must.

Set in Glasgow in the 1970’s , it centres around a young, bright lad, John McGill who is faced with the choices of gang membership, class prejudice and a total wanker of a pissed up, wife beating father (who is played by the film’s director, Peter Mullan). The sets, scenes, costume, make up, haor and props are all spot on. One thing you notice is the complete lack of clothing brands, there is a style and identity, but no badge to make the point.  Only in the eighties, did branding become important to youth gangs, a way of identifying and separating them from mainstream society.  So John is a clever kid, and wants to win by coming top of his class each and every time he is tested. His determination is his drive and if there is no outlet for that drive, not end result, it produces frustration and anger.  His brother is the leader of one of the gangs on his estate and his dad is a twat. The rest of the characters are rich and wild, the story is brilliantly told and the acting,  largely by the non actors, is compelling and above all realistic.

I can relate to John’s story in many ways, mind you my father is the best man on the earth and never drinks any alcohol before one assumes too much.  However, the sense of wanting to ‘be someone’, as Paul Weller wrote and The Jam performed ‘is a wonderful thing’. To  belong to a peer group, to prove you can handle yourself, to show your mates you will never back down, always front the opposition. Indeed not only do you not take a step back, you actively seek out and attack the enemy – preferably on their own patch, on their manor, in their face. Anyway,  I was very lucky and although had my fair share of ‘japery’ including a couple of nasty wounds, I had opportunities and the chance of a very good education, even though I managed to drop out of school (or expelled as the letter from school said), went off the rails a tad, but had enough confidence to make my way in the world.

I won’t spoil NEDS. It is too good a story and too well told to need an amateur like me to pimp it. This is a really essential British film and one I would urge anyone who ever wanted to be someone to watch.

Meanwhile, enjoy a couple of corking, relevant tracks from The Jam. Not of the time of NEDS (that is more T-Rex and the Sensational Alex Harvey Band), but the lyrics and attitude sum up the spirit of the age.

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Filed under Youth Culture