It finally happened. For the first time in over three thousand years, a British man actually won the Tour de France. This is exciting stuff, a sure sign of a British road cycling resurgence, perfectly timed in the run-up to the Olympic Games.
So who would be best to represent Britain by singing our National Anthem at the prize-giving ceremony? Go on, have a guess.
Whoever you just thought of, the answer is “no”. The correct answer (apparently) was Lesley Garrett. That’s L-e-s-l-e-y G-a-r-r-e-t-t.
I can’t seem to embed Telegraph videos in this blog (thanks, WordPress), but you can watch the performance for yourself here.
When Garrett abruptley switches key mid-warble, poor Bradley Wiggins looks like he wants to leap to his death from the winners podium, if only it were a little higher off the ground.
This was another opportunity to showcase the best of Britain. If (and I’ll never understand why you would do this, given the material the performer has to work with) you decide to go with an a capella, soprano rendering of “God Save The Queen”, at least pick from one of the many talented British sopranos that are out there. Instead, I find myself listening to someone who looks and sounds like an aging drag queen on a budget Mediterranean cruise ship. And then, a la Katherine Jenkins, they incorrectly labelled her an “opera singer”. Who made this casting decision, and how was it allowed to proceed unchallenged?
Rupert Christiansen, writing in The Telegraph, agrees with me:
What I would really like to know is who was responsible for selecting Miss Garrett for this delicate task. She is emphatically NOT an opera singer – apart from one operetta, she hasn’t sung a single role in an opera house since the turn of the millennium – but to the powers-that-be she depressingly appears to remain the publicly recognised face of British classical music (there’s Katherine Jenkins too now, of course, but in every artistic respect she’s even worse).
It enrages me that there are so many fabulously good and attractive young British sopranos out there – Elizabeth Llewellyn, Sophie Bevan and Lucy Crowe to name but three – who could have turned this cringe-making moment into a tear-jerking one.
And does this make me a classical music snob? No, I would have had to have been listening to a classical musician to be considered for that charge.
But at least she remembered the words, unlike a certain Christina Aguilera:
I hope she gave back her fee. Actually, I hope both of them refunded their artists fees. Double Fail.