Thursday, October 20, 2011

Queen of the Flowers

A video about: our Queen in Canberra

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Lord of the Champagne Hurdles

I watched my favourite film, the wonderful Chariots of Fire,again recently. The most likeable character in the film is arguably the sauve Lord Lindsay, played by handsome and quintessentially English Nigel Havers. He is based on Lord David Burghley who was apparently just as dashing in real life.

Lord Burghley refused to see the movie at first because of its historical inaccuracies. He reportedly changed his mind, however, and he did like it.

He was born in 1905, the same year in which the British Olympic Association was formed. Lord Burghley eventually became the president of this association for many years. He also became the vice-president of the IOC and the president of the Amateur Athletics Association for several years. He also organised the 1948 Olympics in London. He even had the number-plate of AAA1 on his Rolls-Royce.

Lord Burghley, who became the 6th Marquiss of Exeter, was upset with the film because he completed the Trinity Court Great Run at Cambridge alone and he was the only one to hold this record for years. (The movie depicts him running the race with Harold Abrahams who beats him). The race involves running around the court before the college clock strikes noon, i.e. 43 seconds. The young man ran the race in 1927. He wrote in his diary "ran round Trinity Court on the flags while the clock struck 12, doing it before the one but last stroke, time 42 and a half seconds."

He also didn't give up his place in the 400m race in the 1924 Paris Olympics for Eric Liddell, as depicted in the film. (It was true that Liddell wouldn't run on a Sunday, however). Burghley won the Gold Medal for the race.

The aristocratic champion also won the Gold in the Amsterdam Olympics in 1928 for the 400m hurdles. He set a new Olympic record for this - 53.4 seconds. Lord Burghley went on to win many more medals in the Canadian and Los Angeles Olympics.

Burghley certainly had plenty of land on which to practice. According to legend, he was "the only athlete who can look at 35 Rembrandts in his own home, then jog through 40,000 acres without leaving his own domain." Chariots of Fire shows the intrepid aristocrat training for his race by hurdling over glasses of champagne. He didn't really do this because he wasn't willing to spill a drop of the precious liquid! He did use matchboxes instead!

He also ran around the quarter-mile promenade deck of the Queen Mary in 58 seconds in white tie and tails!

Lord Burghley died in 1981, after a long and prestigious career.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Marie Antoinette's 'Minister of Fashion', Rose Bertin

Who made Marie Antoinette's beautiful clothes. The answer is here.
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