They trotted out Lesley Garrett to serenade the Tour de France winner with the national anthem, and the result was the best fun the French have enjoyed at our expense since Engelbert Humperdinck entered the Eurovision. Poor Bradley Wiggins looked utterly betrayed. You can watch here.
That said, I cannot endorse Rupert Christiansen’s empurpled outrage in the Telegraph at Lesley, or his newspaper’s grotty appeal to its readers to vote upon her apparent ineptitude. Here’s a smelly sample:
Her truly ghastly rendition of the National Anthem – a rotten tune at the best of times, which needs all the help it can get – at the Tour de France ceremony yesterday will not lead me to revise my opinion: she is still blasting out innocent songs in hectoring gung-ho fashion, without style, sensitivity, subtlety or charm, in the vain hope that “bubbly personality” and Yorkshire grit will make up for lack of taste or beauty of tone.
That’s not so much critical abuse as prejudicial smear against a singer who has enjoyed great popular appeal for such tours de force as this:
Lesley may be past her peak these days, but she earned her fame fair and square with natural talent, hard work and the courage to take risks and push her luck to the limits.
Her defence at the Tour de France must be that she stood up at short notice, unaccompanied and in difficult conditions.
Who, right now, could pledge head on heart to do better?
Who would you have sent to sing the Queen for Bradley?