Tuesday, 17 July 2012

London Calling. In nine parts. Parts two to six

2. Now that war is declared and battle come down

Okay, I can see the Olympic struggle and war/battle equivalency thing but, still a bit extreme — if amusingly so. The original song is referencing the travails of the year in which it was made, 1979. Such as? Such as . . .

There was a revolution in Iran. The Sandanistas took power in Nicaragua. White rule was swept away in Rhodesia. The Camp David peace deal was struck between Israel and Egypt. In Pakistan, shariah law was imposed and President Bhutto hanged, handcuffed and hooded, in secret at 2am in a regional jail. In Kabul, the US ambassador was kidnapped and killed. Shi'ite gunmen seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca: false rumours that the attackers were Americans led to assaults on the US embassies in Pakistan and Libya. Saddam Hussein came to power in Iraq. Vietnam invaded Cambodia, uncovering Pol Pot's mass graves. China invaded Vietnam. Russia invaded Afghanistan.

3. London calling to the underworld

Well, that same year, a movie was made, set mostly in East London. It was about a gangster trying to get out of the underworld by doing a deal with the US mafia over plans to redevelop the newly emptied docklands area for . . . the Olympics. Things go wrong, though, for the crim and he ends up being kidnapped by terrorists. If you haven’t seen Long Good Friday, do. (PS Pedants, yes, I know it came out in 1980 but it was made in 1979.)

4. Come out of the cupboard, all you boys and girls

I assume that the original intention was to anglicise the then-fairly new concept of coming out of the closet. So: a plea to be open about homosexuality, both male and female.

5. London calling, now don't look at us

No, I never really got that line, either — though it does kind of link to the next one . . .

6. All that phoney Beatlemania has bitten the dust

I suppose I thought of this as a follow-up to Joe Strummer’s 1977 line about a future free of the Beatles, Elvis and the Rolling Stones.
Next up Parts 7 to 9

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