The Henley streaker: a very British way to welcome the Olympic torch

The torch's relay around Britain has been marked by indifference and disruption, as well as cheering crowds.

Yet another gatecrasher has managed to inject an element of ridicule into the progress of the Olympic torch around the country.

A naked man ran down the street as the procession reached Henley-on-Thames, holding his very own torch aloft as he ran:

He's not the first to distrupt the torch's progress around the UK by any means. In fact, it would seem that Britain has welcomed the symbol of the Olympic spirit with our traditional blend of indifference, mischief and civil disobedience.

There was the incident in Coventry, where two children tried (and almost succeeded) in simply taking the torch out of the hand of its bearer:

As my colleague Alex Hern reported over the weekend, there was also a highly questionable incident when police pushed a boy off his bike as he cycled alongside the torch party:

Another man tried to get near it as it came through Cleethorpes.

In Ezdell, a man was astonished to receive a visit from two plain clothes policemen after he handed out leaflets publicising the torch relay's connections with Nazi-era Germany.

The flame went out here, and had to be rapidly relighted:

Well done, Britain. An excellent reception for a very silly tradition. Although, the whole Torch thing was arguably doomed from the start - it did go out during the lighting ceremony in Greece...

An Olympic Torch bearer holds it aloft at the Giants Causeway. Photograph: Getty Images

Caroline Crampton is web editor of the New Statesman.

YouTube screengrab
Show Hide image

“Trembling, shaking / Oh, my heart is aching”: the EU out campaign song will give you chills

But not in a good way.

You know the story. Some old guys with vague dreams of empire want Britain to leave the European Union. They’ve been kicking up such a big fuss over the past few years that the government is letting the public decide.

And what is it that sways a largely politically indifferent electorate? Strikes hope in their hearts for a mildly less bureaucratic yet dangerously human rights-free future? An anthem, of course!

Originally by Carly You’re so Vain Simon, this is the song the Leave.EU campaign (Nigel Farage’s chosen group) has chosen. It is performed by the singer Antonia Suñer, for whom freedom from the technofederalists couldn’t come any suñer.

Here are the lyrics, of which your mole has done a close reading. But essentially it’s just nature imagery with fascist undertones and some heartburn.

"Let the river run

"Let all the dreamers

"Wake the nation.

"Come, the new Jerusalem."

Don’t use a river metaphor in anything political, unless you actively want to evoke Enoch Powell. Also, Jerusalem? That’s a bit... strong, isn’t it? Heavy connotations of being a little bit too Englandy.

"Silver cities rise,

"The morning lights,

"The streets that meet them,

"And sirens call them on

"With a song."

Sirens and streets. Doesn’t sound like a wholly un-authoritarian view of the UK’s EU-free future to me.

"It’s asking for the taking,

"Trembling, shaking,

"Oh, my heart is aching."

A reference to the elderly nature of many of the UK’s eurosceptics, perhaps?

"We’re coming to the edge,

"Running on the water,

"Coming through the fog,

"Your sons and daughters."

I feel like this is something to do with the hosepipe ban.

"We the great and small,

"Stand on a star,

"And blaze a trail of desire,

"Through the dark’ning dawn."

Everyone will have to speak this kind of English in the new Jerusalem, m'lady, oft with shorten’d words which will leave you feeling cringéd.

"It’s asking for the taking.

"Come run with me now,

"The sky is the colour of blue,

"You’ve never even seen,

"In the eyes of your lover."

I think this means: no one has ever loved anyone with the same colour eyes as the EU flag.

I'm a mole, innit.