paralympic 2012


July 5th 1948: NHS launched

On this day in 1948, the National Health Service came into effect in the United Kingdom. Ideas for a nationalised health system had been around for decades before 1948, but it was not until then that they became a reality for British citizens. The Labour government of Clement Attlee, elected in 1945, were committed to the principles of the welfare state. They were greatly influenced by the 1942 Beveridge Report, which recommended social reform to tackle the five ‘Giant Evils’ of squalor, ignorance, want, idleness and disease. Thinkers around Britain thus came to see healthcare as a fundamental universal right, not a privilege held by a few. Working with these ideas, the government passed the National Health Service Act in 1946, which came into effect on July 5th 1948 and created the NHS in England and Wales (Scotland’s was created separately). The creation of the NHS led to universal health care in the United Kingdom, paid for through central taxation, ending the requirement that patients pay directly for their own healthcare. It radically restructured the British health care system, with the NHS taking control of the almost half a million hospital beds in England and Wales and placing almost all hospitals and staff under its jurisdiction. Despite ongoing debates over the efficiency, cost and structure of the NHS, it remains a central feature of the British welfare state. As seen with its celebration during the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony, the NHS is a point of national pride for Britain. Indeed, according to a recent study, thanks to the NHS Britain has the best healthcare system out of eleven of the world’s wealthiest nations, with the United States in last place.

66 years ago today

Being a Disabled Musician Is Still a Lot Harder Than It Should Be

“I’m Spasticus / I’m Spasticus / I’m Spasticus Autisticus!”

That was Ian Dury’s glorious, post-punk fuck you to the UN for declaring 1981 to be the Year of the Disabled. Crippled by polio from the age of eight, Dury saw the entire “year of the disabled” concept as patronizing, and his Spartacus reference raised the message from the simply pissed-off to the revolutionary: Disabled people don’t want pity; they want freedom from all that bullshit. Or, as Dury himself put it, “I wasn’t moaning, I was doing the opposite of moaning: I was yelling.”

That yelling immediately got the song banned by the BBC and effectively ended Dury’s chart career.

But we now live in more enlightened times, right? They even played “Spasticus Autisticus” at the 2012 London Paralympics opening ceremony, with Stephen Hawking onstage. But beyond the feel-good Olympic spectacle, three-and-a-half decades after Ian Dury’s protest, disabled musicians and fans are still having to yell to get their voices heard.


“a spy organization recruits an unrefined, but promising street kid into the agency’s ultra-competitive training program, just as a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius.”

dir.: matthew vaughn
action / adventure / comedy

colin firth as harry hart / galahad
samuel l. jackson as valentine
taron egerton as gary ‘eggsy’ unwin
mark strong as merlin
michael caine as arthur
sofia boutella as gazelle
mark hamill as professor arnold

some facts:

  • colin firth did 80% of his own stunts according to stunt coordinator & 2nd unit director bradley james allan.
  • many of the villains in the james bond franchise have had some form of physical dysfunction, difference or abnormality. samuel l. jackson’s character of richmond valentine was originally intended not to have a lisp, however jackson completed his 1st take with a lisp. director matthew vaughn yelled cut and talked to jackson who revealed to vaughn that prior to having an acting career he actually had a lisp which he eventually overcame. it was also jokingly remarked that this lisp is valentine’s reason for being villainous.
  • according to “the gentleman’s guide” on the film’s official website, “the rules” of a kingsman gentleman are as follows: 
      • a gentleman never tells about conquests, private matters, or dealings. his business is nobody else’s. 
      • a gentleman doesn’t clash in public with enemies or exes, or worse, with out-of-fashion contrasts, colors or styles. 
      • a gentleman is always happy to serve, whether it’s opening the door, picking up the bill, or merely calling a cab the next morning. ask him for help and he cannot refuse. 
      • a gentleman never reacts to rudeness. he pretends he doesn’t recognize it and moves on like it never happened, because it never should have. 
      • a gentleman is always on target with witty remarks, interesting facts, and conversation starters that bring the best out of everyone. 
      • a gentleman asks non-invasive questions to keep a conversation going and attention focused on others. he makes them feel like the most interesting person he’s ever met, whether that’s true or not.
  • when the new kingsman recruits have their 1st night’s sleep interrupted by a deluge of water pouring into the dorm, on set the scene went horrifically wrong. as vaughn recalls “i shouted 'action!’, the computer got it wrong and vrrrrssshh, everyone was 20’ down underwater. cameras, sound guys… guys were in waders full of water, panic, everyone diving in and pulling people out.” the set, painsstakingly planned and rehearsed using height markers and computer programmed water tanks, washed away in a near-biblical flood when said computers went rogue. “those actors weren’t acting, they were absolutely terrified,” shudders vaughn. “it was awful for the 1st day of filming.
  • a full kingsman secret service menswear line was created and crafted especially for the film, with tailoring and manufacturing by some of britain’s most elite, famous and trusted clothing brands. the classic british gentleman’s wardrobe featured in the film is a 60 piece collection that includes suits, watches, ties, umbrellas, briefcases and more. some movie posters for the picture feature the whole of the arsenal.
  • actress sofia boutella had to undergo an intense training schedule to portray the part of gazelle. boutella has said: "they taught me thai boxing, taekwondo, and how to work with cables. gazelle uses her legs to kill, so i had to learn different types of kicks. i’d never done anything like it before.”
  • in the film, the character of professor james arnold is played by mark hamill. in the comic series, hamill is the first celebrity kidnapped by dr. arnold.
  • amy purdy, the double amputee snowboarder in sochi and runner up from dancing with the stars was originally cast as “gazelle” but when filming was delayed she dropped out so she wouldn’t miss the olympics.
  • matthew vaughn describes the film as a love letter to the old-time bond movies and the stylish super-spy films and tv series he grew up with, such as the avengers (1961), the ipcress file (1965), the prisoner (1967), the man from u.n.c.l.e. (1964) and our man flint (1967).
  • the “looking good. feeling good” exchange is a reference to trading places (1983) which is a film about opposite ends of the class privilege scale and is referenced early in the movie.
  • actor mark strong, who plays merlin, has said of this film: “this [movie] will be to bond what kick-ass (2010) is to superhero movies.”
  • in the “secret service” comic, gazelle is a young man with artificial legs. in the film, gazelle is a female acrobatic dancer with artificial legs.
  • when the kingsman recruits are going through the basic training program, they still look good, and wear what are known as “siren suits.” these outfits were inspired by the one-piece garment famously worn by former english prime minister winston churchill.
  • director matthew vaughn has said that his vision for the picture should be interpreted in terms of what steven spielberg wanted to do with raiders of the lost ark (1981) where spielberg took the movie genre he grew up with as a kid and then re-interpreted it in a “modern, fresh, accessible way.”
  • inspired by the 2012 paralympics in london, matthew vaughn wanted to have a character with a prosthetic leg similar to the 'flex-foot cheetah’ as worn by paralympian sprinters. at one point, oscar pistorius was approached about playing the role of 'gazelle’ and his representatives were asked if pistorius could play a convincing killer. he later declined to take the role to focus on practicing for future sporting events. sadly, in february 2013 pistorius was put on trial for apparently shooting and killing his girlfriend reeva steenkamp. also in the film, gazelle shoots someone through a door. pistorius had shot steenkamp through a door.
  • comic book writer mark millar once told director matthew vaughn about a newspaper article he had read about how director terence young, who directed the first james bond film dr. no (1962), and had cast sean connery against the wishes of james bond creator ian fleming. fleming had seen agent 007 as more of a james mason or david niven type, the latter actually portraying him later in the unofficial spoof casino royale (1967). millar has said: “young realized he had to turn connery, this rough edinburgh guy, into a gentleman, and before they started shooting the film he took him to his tailor, to his favorite restaurants, and basically taught him how to eat, talk, and dress like a gentleman spy.”
  • the kingsman shop seen in the film is based on the world-renowned tailor huntsman shop according to production designer paul kirby. shooting on location was impractical, so kirby and his team built their own version of the kingsman shop in the studio at leavesden. the tailors at huntsman loaned the production some props to add authenticity. kirby has said: “we were then able to crank up the volume and density of some things, and strip away some others. if you walk down savile row and have a look in the huntsman window, as i’m sure some people will do after seeing this film, you’ll see some elements that are similar and some that aren’t. we wanted to put our own mark on it.”
  • the movie pays tribute to classic 1960s hit spy tv series get smart (1965) and the man from u.n.c.l.e. (1964) by setting the entrance to the headquarters in a tailor’s shop. entry to uncle’s new york hq was via del floria’s tailor shop whilst colin firth points out that an earlier model of the kingsman shoe had a phone in the heel, a la maxwell smart’s shoe phone.
  • james bond movie references appearing in the film include a discussion of the films, the method of how to mix a martini, arthur’s question concerning gary’s dog’s name and rosa klebb (lotte lenya)’s lethal dagger shoe that appeared in from russia with love (1963).
  • gadgets and weapons featured in the film include exploding silicon microchips, remote-activated poison pens, double-barrelled hand-pistols, bullet-proof designer-fashion suits, a 50,000 volt electrified sovereign ring, augmented virtual reality spectacles, a bulletproof ar targeting system ammunition-firing black designer umbrella, super-spy smart watches which can fire sleep darts and magnetized bolas, artificial razor-sharp silver-metal legs of female acrobat gazelle and shoes with poisoned neurotoxin pop-out blades reminiscent of those seen in from russia with love (1963).
  • lock & co., the store harry hart recommends valentine buy his hat from, is a real shop on st. james street in london.
  • only 3 of the characters from the source comic book “the secret service” by mark millar and dave gibbons were used for the screen version. they are gazelle (with a gender change), dr. james arnold (who is now a professor) & gary london who is now gary unwin.
  • it is quite common in american hollywood movies for the villains to be portrayed with an english accent; in kingsman the villain is distinctly american whereas the hero is english.
  • the movie was initially going to be set in the usa, but after much consideration it was finally decided to set the picture in the uk. director matthew vaughn insisted on keeping the story based in britain, so source comic-book writer mark millar knew he’d need to find a british illustrator to capture the subtle differences between the classes and that person was dave gibbons.
  • at one point in the film, eggsy calls merlin 'mycroft’ as in mycroft holmes, the brother of the fictional detective sherlock holmes. 'mark strong’, who plays merlin in this movie, also featured in the film sherlock holmes (2009).
  • the film was made and released about 3 years after its source comic book “the secret service” written by mark millar and dave gibbons was first published in 2012. “the secret service” rolled out onto the shelves of comic book stores in february 2012, telling the story of a gentleman spy training his street-punk nephew to be the next great secret agent, and exploring 2 co-existing sides of british culture.
  • several people involved in this film have worked on other comic book adaptations as well. director matthew vaughn directed x-men: first class (2011), samuel l. jackson played nick fury in several films and michael caine and mark hamill have both appeared in batman adaptations, as alfred pennyworth and the joker, respectively. mark strong also played sinestro in green lantern and the villain in kick-ass. hamill also played the trickster (james jesse) in the flash (1990).
  • according to the film’s press notes, the movie wryly subverts the conceits of the spy genre, telling the story of a gentleman spy who takes an ordinary working class kid under his wing and trains him in the art of espionage. it’s about a street kid’s journey from one social class to another, set in the two colliding worlds of life and death adventure and a very ordinary street existence. director and co-writer matthew vaughn has said: “the film is a blend of everything i learned from making lock stock [lock, stock and two smoking barrels (1998)], snatch. (2000), and layer cake (2004), which were gangster movies, as well as my comic-book films kick-ass (2010) and x-men: first class (2011).”
  • director matthew vaughn conceptualized the kingsman suits as being double breasted ones and not the traditionally cut and tailored style.
  • fashion editor, consultant and net-a-porter empire founder natalie massenet has said of this film to show-business trade paper 'the hollywood reporter’: “i knew the clothes had to really serve the plot - and they do in our film. an elite secret group of gentleman spies camouflage their identity by holding meetings in a savile row tailor’s shop. it’s not like the clothes are an added benefit or not utterly functional to the story. they are a big part of the story. colin [firth] is grooming a young man to be the next gentleman spy - and in this case, the clothes do make the man.”
  • the poster design style of one of the film’s main movie posters, with all its variations, with a woman’s legs and thighs in the foreground and a male in the background situated between them, was iconic and controversial when it was used for the earlier james bond film for your eyes only (1981). when shooting the still for that movie’s main poster, photographer morgan kane allegedly asked the model to put the bathing suit on backwards as they hung too low over her legs. after the poster had been released, some newspaper editors felt that there was too much buttock shown in the poster. to show less skin, the suit was extended or shorts were added to the hips in the posters. the original poster caused outrage amongst various groups, causing saskatchewan, canada to rate the film “special x”, despite being rated pg or equivalent virtually everywhere else. that rating was later lowered. apparently the model’s identity was not known for some time. more than one model alleged they were the owners of the legs but it was finally revealed they belonged to then 22 year old new york model joyce bartle. the kingsman: the secret service (2014) poster avoids the controversy by not having naked legs and thighs and with star colin firth’s eye-line gaze looking downwards, instead of bond’s in the for your eyes only (1981) poster looking upwards at the bond poster girl.
  • the film features a bulletproof ar targeting system ammunition-firing black designer umbrella. according to website 'myvue’, in real life, “back in 1978, bulgarian author georgi markov was assassinated when an umbrella, partly developed by the soviet kgb, fired a fatal pellet the size of a pinhead, containing the poison ricin into his leg.”
  • 3 of the film’s cast have notable espionage film experience. colin firth and mark strong had recently starred in john le carré’s el topo (2011) whilst michael caine had thrice portrayed the famous 60s spy character of harry palmer in the ipcress file (1965), funeral in berlin (1966) and billion dollar brain (1967).
  • the head camera seen in many scenes is a replayxd action camera.
  • a number of the characters have code names from arthurian legend. these include merlin (mark strong), galahad (aka harry hart) (colin firth), lancelot (jack davenport) and arthur (michael caine).
  • the gazelle (sofia boutella) henchwoman character has metallic weaponry anatomical appendages in keeping with some of the iconic villains and henchmen from the james bond series such as dr. no (1962) (metallic hands); the title character goldfinger (1964) with his obsession with gold as well as oddjob (steel rimmed bowler hat) from that same movie; tee-hee (metallic hook hand) from live and let die (1973); and jaws (metal teeth) from moonraker (1979) and the spy who loved me (1977).
  • the press notes state that the gentleman spy is a classic trope of british cinema, from the authentic view of the lonely sleuth presented by john le carré to the high-tech high-testosterone fantasies of the 1960s james bond films. lead actor colin firth has said: “so you have a bit of [author len deighton’s spy protagonist] harry palmer, a bit of [james] bond, and a bit of [john] le carré, and it’s all there for the sake of entertainment.”
  • samuel l. jackson’s character is called valentine, which is the same surname as eddie murphy’s character in trading places (1983), a film referenced in the film. also, one of jackson’s first screen roles was in an eddie murphy film, coming to america (1988).
  • the main character’s name was changed in the film from london to unwin, undoubtedly as a reference to stanley unwin who played the lead character of father unwin in the gerry anderson supermarionation series called the secret service (1969).
  • the character of colin firth wears spectacles (“teviot 74” alike) like that of spy harry palmer who was played in movies by michael caine, who also appears in kingsman: the secret service (2014).
  • the british gentleman’s wardrobe fashions seen in the film are a collaboration of director matthew vaughan, costume designer arianne phillips and 'mr porter", the award winning global men’s style retail tailors, combining the best international menswear with editorial content, these all creating for the film a dream team of british heritage brands to create a new menswear label that refreshes that wardrobe.
  • reportedly, the price-range for savile-row-style suiting seen in the film starts at around the us $1750 price tag.
  • the film’s art and set direction was inspired and influenced by long-time james bond franchise art director and production designer ken adam. given the film’s bondian influences, kingsman: the secret service (2014) production designer paul kirby embraced the opportunity to give a nod to famed production designer ken adam, who worked on many of the early james bond films. kirby has said: “we made something with its own sensibility but there are one or two subtle nods to acknowledge ken’s body of work. there’s not a designer in the world that isn’t a fan of his.” kirby has worked on three james bond films himself, and all pierce brosnan bond films, they being goldeneye (1995), die another day (2002) and tomorrow never dies (1997).
  • the comic book was originally suppose to be about the u.s. secret service who call themselves “uncle sam.”
  • the movie’s music score has said to be reminiscent of the soundtracks that john barry used to compose for the earlier james bond films.
  • you can see a millwall fc scarf in the background in eggsy’s room. geoff bell (dean) plays the leader of millwall’s firm in green street hooligans
  • brand integrations, product placements and promotional tie-ins seen in the movie in the exclusive kingsman designer range include the savile row shopfront; mackintosh coats and outwear; drakes handmade ties, pocket squares, bow ties and silk accessories; george cleverley shoes and footwear; turnbull & asser cotton poplin and oxford cloth shirts; bremont watches, clocks and timepieces; cutler & gross glasses, frames and eyewear; swaine adeney brigg leather goods; thomas briggs & sons umbrellas; and phillips suits, jackets, and trousers.
  • the picture was originally going to be released late 2014 around late october and november depending on the territory, but the movie was not ready so the worldwide release launches got pushed back to dates most of which are during february 2015.
  • richard brake, who plays the interrogator during the train scene, played joe chill (the man who shoots and kills bruce wayne’s parents) in batman - el inicio (2005); a movie that starred kingsman actor michael caine as alfred, bruce’s caretaker after his parents death. also in this movie is mark hamill, who has voiced batman’s arch-enemy, the joker, for over two decades.
  • england did beat germany 5-1 in a 2002 world cup qualification match played on september 1, 2001. the film makes reference of that match.
  • in the film, eggsy’s training dog is named jb, after american super spy jack bauer, from the fox series “24.” despite the characters north american origins, the series revival mini series took place in london, england, where this film is largely set.
  • actor colin firth won’t let his own kids (aged 11 and 13) watch this movie.
  • the pistol carried by the kingsman is actually a russian tokarev tt-33 from world war ii. it is heavily modified though, with an under barrel shotgun.
  • both mark hamill and samuel l. jackson have portrayed jedi knights in the star wars movies. hamill played luke skywalker and jackson played mace windu.
  • on the film’s specialized direct specific for movie product branding and manufacture, vanessa friedman of the 'the new york times’ has reported: “the clothing line is a risky move, as it is so dependent on the success of the film and its potential for sequel after sequel. and the investment required is not insignificant, especially compared with the traditional product placement deals where filmmakers get the stuff free (or as a pay-to-play, depending on the agreement) but the clothing brand gets the associated windfall if your picture makes it big. when you think about this approach, however, the payoff could be huge … ready-made content for marketing, not to mention ready-made celebrity spokespeople! every mention of the movie, every interview with an actor, will be a chance to move merch [= merchandising]. it takes the whole famous-person-with-a-fashion-line … to a more abstract, conceptual level.”
  • the wristwatch that valentine (samuel l. jackson) wears appears to be a casio ca-53w water resistant databank calculator watch.
  • while many people compare actors tom hardy with taron egerton, hardy was actually in another 'matthew vaughn’ film, layer cake (2004), and will be starring in the upcoming british crime drama legend (2015) with egerton.
  • the character james arnold was also named after james arnold taylor, a fellow voice-artist and close friend of mark hamill and mark millar.
  • this is the 2nd time a colin firth character recites shakespeare’s “to be or not to be” phrase, although this time it was parodied as “to pee or not to pee.” he previously recited the phrase while playing king george vi in the king’s speech (2010).
  • this movie and testament of youth (2014) are the 1st theatrical feature films of welsh actor taron egerton.
  • the top secret headquarters of the kingsman secret service is situated on elite men’s fashion street savile row.
  • the film’s costume designer, arianne phillips, teamed up with online fashion retail in creating a collection of suits as the ones worn by the actors in the film.
  • near the end of the movie, samuel l. jackson ends a speech with a line almost identical to a line he speaks in the film the 51st state (2001), “let’s get ready to party.” it is also spoken with the same emphasis and elongation of the word “party.”
  • actor colin firth joined the film’s cast to top-bill the picture on 29th april 2013.
  • 2nd movie from the 20th century fox studio in recent years to allegedly utilize the james bond film for your eyes only (1981) for material or marketing. in rise of the planet of the apes (2011), one of the primates kicks a car off a bridge, the same type of way that james bond (roger moore) did in for your eyes only (1981). secondly, in kingsman: the secret service (2014), one of the major release movie posters utilizes a close-up of a woman’s legs in the foreground with a character juxtaposed in the background between them, just as with the main movie poster for that bond film.
  • many movie posters for the film are reminiscent in design style of the iconic james bond film for for your eyes only (1981). this type of poster design with a woman’s legs and thighs in the foreground and a man (bond) between them in the background has also been used for abel ferrara’s ms .45 (1981) (aka angel of vengeance) and the french poster for transporter 2 (2005) amongst a few others.
  • the last name of the film’s main villain is valentine. coincidentally, the film’s united states release was on valentine’s day weekend.
  • in the scene where arthur and agent hart are reviewing professor arnold’s (mark hamill’s) file on the mirror screen in the kingsmen conference room, arnold’s education includes imperial college. hamill plays luke skywalker, who fought against the imperial army in the original star wars trilogy.
  • james bond star daniel craig was once directed by kingsman: the secret service (2014)’s director matthew vaughn in layer cake (2004). that was the film craig had last appeared in before it was announced that he would be the new james bond in casino royale (2006).
  • this is the third matthew vaughn film to have a score composed by henry jackman.
  • during and in the lead-up to the first and second world wars, the british intelligence services often used tailor shop as fronts for their activities.
  • kingsman: the secret service (2014) is being released in the same year as such other big spy espionage films as spy (2015), spectre (2015), mission: impossible - rogue nation (2015) and the man from u.n.c.l.e. (2015).
  • the production of this picture was first announced during late 2012.
  • the plane shown as being flown by the swedish prime minister, is not an accurate representation of the actual plane flown by the prime minister, who in reality flies a white painter gulfstream.
  • it was originally announced on 20th may 2014 that henry jackman and matthew margeson would be writing and composing the music for this picture but later on 11th july 2014 it was reported that gary barlow would be the film’s composer.
  • the song that’s played during the movie’s closing credits is take that’s “get ready for it” and has been taken from their 007th studio album entitled “iii” (2014).
  • when eggsy is stood in his room, a millwall f.c scarf can be seen on the mirror. eggsy’s step-dad in this film plays the boss of the millwall firm in green street (2005)
  • the promotional trade paperback book will be launched to tie in with the film on the 14th of january 2015.
  • kingsman: the secret service subtly references several television series produced by gerry anderson (1929-2012) in the late 1960s. most obvious is the connection to anderson’s “supermarionation” series the secret service (1969), whose lead character is an undercover spy named father stanley unwin. when gary unwin appears in the kingsman stinger segment during the final credits, he is wearing horn-rimmed glasses similar to those previously worn by his mentor, harry hart. father unwin in gerry anderson’s the secret service wore similar spectacles, as did the title character of anderson’s 1968-69 series joe 90. in that latter series, nine-year-old joe mcclaine is an ordinary boy who can appropriate the knowledge and skills of any profession (e.g. jet fighter pilot, surgeon, concert pianist), as long as he is wearing specially designed horn-rimmed glasses programmed with the necessary skill set. gary unwin’s rapid acquisition of espionage skills recalls joe mcclaine’s ability to instantaneously acquire similar skills in joe 90. finally, the tailor shop room that doubles as an elevator leading to a secret command centre recalls a similar feature in gerry anderson’s first live-action series, ufo (1970-71). in that series, a movie studio serves as the false front that connects to the headquarters of a top-secret agency tasked with protecting the earth from alien invasion. access to the agency’s high-tech facilities is gained via a film producer’s office that is actually an elevator that descends to the headquarters of supreme headquarters, alien defense organization (shado).
  • considering that a bespoke shop is a cover for the agency, michael caine, who appears in this film is a close friend of former footballer mike summerbee whom they worked in victory and became a tailor after retirement.
  • the tail number n247ck (november two four seven charlie kilo) was originally assigned to a 1982 canadair cl-600 challenger in october of 2009 and deregistered when the aircraft was exported to england in march of 2012. it is still on reserve until march of 2017.
  • in the scene where galahad and valentine confront each other at kingsman tailors, valentine says the line: “i guarantee it”, which is the slogan of the american men’s dress clothes retailer men’s warehouse.
  • the movie’s name kingsman: the secret service (2014) has 2 similarities with the james bond film title of on her majesty’s secret service (1969). both refer to a “regal” character and both refer to an intelligence “secret service.”
  • the videogame the order 1886, which was released in early 2015 like kingsman, has a main character who’s name is galahad

spoilers the trivia items below may give away important plot points.

  • in the big church sequence, colin firth’s galahad / harry hart character kills 79 people.
  • in michael caine’s final scene, he speaks with his native cockney accent, suggesting that arthur’s roots are not so aristocratic as one would think.
  • at the end of the film eggsy asks for the code to enter the cell holding princess tilde. merlin gives him the code '2625’ which if typed into a phone keypad would spell 'anal’.
  • in arthurian legend, sir lancelot is “the brave” and sir galahad is “the pure.” therefore, it is fitting that eggsy does not earn the title of lancelot and instead goes on to take harry’s place as galahad, as eggsy demonstrates repeatedly in the film that he is pure of heart, and roxy earns the lancelot title by conquering her fear.
  • the end joke is intended as an r-rated version of the classic bond movie end jokes. matthew vaughn said: “the whole movie is a post modern love letter to spy films and as a kid watching moonraker (1979), i hear "bond is about to attempt re-entry, sir.” i remember that line. so we’ve blown peoples heads up, we’ve had massacres in churches, we’ve pushed the boundaries, we should at least have the classic spy movie end joke and do the r-rated version.“ 
  • because of the brutality and violent nature of the church massacre sequence, it was removed in the vietnamese version of the film.
  • the world-domination scheme of the film’s arch villain richmond valentine (samuel l. jackson) is that it posits that the global population has swelled to uncontrollable levels, so it requires culling. his deadly plan is to produce sim cards that he will distribute freely around the world, and which will both stimulate aggression and reduce inhibition. they’ll literally cause people to tear each other apart, save for a select few chosen for their intelligence, power and beauty. with protective chips implanted into the heads of these elite, valentine has rounded them up and transported them to his secret base. source comic book writer mark millar has said: "i 'borrowed’ the idea from a professor i met from glasgow university. he had explained to me that if the reptilian complex at the very base of the human brain was activated, we would be extremely territorial and aggressive, and ultimately destroy each other. there’s a radio frequency that drives everyone nuts.”
  • the concept of giving trainees a puppy at the beginning of their training and having them kill it as the last step also appears in the song of ice and fire novels as a part of the training of the unsullied.
  • the clock valentine runs during the movies climax is the “v-day” clock likely referencing a doomsday clock. however, if successful, v-day or valentine’s day would be a worldwide massacre or a “valentine’s day massacre” so it could also be a reference to the infamous massacre in chicago.

+: amazon / imdb


Reclaiming Fitspo: Assunta Legnante

Assunta Legnante is an Italian shot putter. She is one of the few athletes to have competed in both the Olympics and the Paralympics.

Born in Naples in 1978, Legnante has been nicknamed the Cannoncina (”Little Cannon”) due to her powerful right arm. She won the Silver medal in the 2002 European Indoor Athletics Championships, her first major professional competition, and continued on to win Gold in the 2007 games. And although she did not place highly, she even competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

After losing her sight to congenital glaucoma in 2009, Legnante started her career as a Paralympic athlete, taking part in the 2012 Summer Paralympic Games. It was at the 2012 Italian Paralympic Athletics Championships that she set a new F11 shot put world record with a throw of 13.27m and then continued on to improve the world record, three times, to 15.22m. If this wasn’t enough, at the London Paralympics, she again broke her own world record with a throw of 16.74m.

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Reclaiming Fitspo: Laurentia Tan

Tan is a 35 year old equestrian competitor from Singapore. 

When Tan developed cerebral palsy and deafness after birth, her family moved to the United Kingdom in order to ensure that she would have access to a specialized education and medical support system. When she turned five, although she was unable to sit and walk on her own, she took up horseback riding at the Diamond Centre for Disabled Riders as a form of physiotherapy.

After graduating school at age 18, Tan briefly gave up riding in order to pursue her degree in hospitality management and dedicate time to her job as a mental health worker. Yet she returned in 2005 and began an illustrious competitive career. In 2007, she joined the Singapore team for the World Para Dressage Championships. Her high performance there qualified her for the 2008 Summer Paralympics. There she became both the first Singaporean to win a Paralympic medal and the holder of Asia’s first Paralympic equestrian medal. Altogether, she won two medals: a bronze in Dressage and a bronze in Freestyle. 

Tan returned to the Paralympics in 2012 and managed to improve both of her scores, this time bringing home a bronze in Dressage and a silver in Freestyle. For all these achievements, Tan won The Straits Times newspaper’s Star of the Month for September 2012, and was then conferred a Bintang Bakti Masyarakat (Public Service Star) by the President of Singapore. 

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Sebastian Coe: London delivered best ever Games and is perfect stage for World Para Athletic Championships

The very talented Jenny Sealey and Bradley Hemmings were the creative brains behind the opening ceremony of London’s Paralympic Games in 2012. They chose the Age of Enlightenment as the theme for the show.

I am sure I don’t have to explain to the readership of this newspaper that the Enlightenment promoted a world of education and reason; and the underlying faith that, as both propagated, ignorance and superstition would wither on the vine.

The ceremony was clever, thoughtful and, at times, breathtaking. And throughout the three-hour sweep, the stars of the show — all with disability and impairment — began the narrative of those Games. Put simply, everything we were watching and being achieved by people with disability, the so-called able-bodied populace could not begin to match. In fact, wouldn’t get within the proverbial country mile.

Although Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony for the Olympics, chronicling our journey from agrarian to digital world and famously topped off by the Queen jumping into the summer skies of East London from a helicopter, was an absolute showstopper, it was the Paralympic opener that surprised and challenged us.

It was meant to. The Beijing Paralympics in 2008 raised the bar dramatically: “Games of equal splendour”, the Chinese dubbed them. Our London teams, either watching in the iconic Bird’s Nest or back at base, knew the gauntlet had unmistakeably been thrown in our path.

London was the first games to have one organising committee responsible for the delivery of both Olympic and Paralympic Games. Chris Holmes, now a peer of the realm and our most decorated Paralympian in the pool, became the first director of Paralympic integration. His job was to make sure that every level of service offered to Olympians, was replicated for the Paralympians. And to keep the rest of us honest to our bid promises. He did both.

London also had another advantage and it lay in its history. The genesis of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) is British and currently headed by the no-nonsense Lancastrian Sir Philip Craven, who has made brave decisions and steered the body to real global presence. At the same time as the ‘Austerity Games’ were taking place in our war-torn capital in 1948, Ludwig Guttmann, a visionary surgeon from Stoke Mandeville Hospital, staged his own competition.

Guttmann, whose daughter, Eva Loeffler, shared mayoral duties in the athletes’ village during the 2012 Paralympics, used sport as a bridgehead to the rehabilitation of broken minds and bodies. By 1952, he had started to reach out to overseas competitors, who travelled to the Buckinghamshire hospital to compete. By 1960, the first Paralympic events appeared in the Rome Games. Jingoism aside, the rest is history, and it is in greater part a British history.

So, by 2012, although there was still much to be done in marketing, promotion and ticket sales, we felt we were working with our history and not gamely attempting to enthuse the populace from a standing start.

It also helped that our Paralympians were household names. Tanni Grey-Thompson, the senior partner in our history, blazed the way for the David Weirs and Sarah Storeys.

I knew we were travelling well when, early on the morning of our one-year-to-go celebration in Trafalgar Square, Ellie Simmonds, who had returned from Beijing with a sackful of swimming medals and become a media darling, patiently signed autographs to children from the host boroughs who had formed a 30-yard queue and were all straining to see their heroine.

A year later, in front of full stadia and record ticket sales, London delivered the best ever Games. At last I can say that, free from the faux courtesies of Olympic and Paralympic comparison. Last Friday, the World Para Athletic Championships opened in the London Stadium — a little bit more history as this is the first time these championships and next month’s World Championships have been held in the same city.

British interest focuses on Jonnie Peacock and Hannah Cockroft. Peacock is the 100m champion in the last two Games in the T44 category for amputees and last night added another 100m gold to his glittering collection. Wheelchair racer Cockcroft owns world records for the T34 over 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m and is also a three-times gold medallist from Rio 2016.

Weir, who retired from competition after Rio, joins Channel 4’s excellent team covering the championships alongside John Rawling, still the best voice in these circumstances. Weir’s departure leaves Marcel Hug, the ‘Silver Bullet’ from Switzerland, to dominate, while Marlou van Rhijn, dubbed the ‘Blade Babe’, a double-leg amputee in the T43 is also one to watch.

Every day of the championships will provide superhuman sport from those who have overcome extraordinary setbacks. I marvel at their achievements. In 2012, I shared a press conference platform on the eve of the closing ceremony with a vivacious volunteer. Emily was a wheelchair archer who had dedicated her summer to helping others. I asked her why she had committed to so many long hours. “For me, the Paralympics have lifted the clouds of limitation,” she said.

The championships now under way yet again nudge us towards a recalibration of disability.


Team GB ‘s Paralympic stamps pt.3

1)Ellie Simmonds - SM6 200m individual medley

2)Mickey Bushell - T53 100m

3)Danielle Brown - Archery Women’s individual compound

4)Heather Frederiksen - S8 100 m backstroke 

5)Sophie Christiansen Grade 1a Freestyle dressage 

6)David Weir - T54 1500m

7)Sarah Storey - C4-5 road time-trial

8)Ollie Hynd - S8 200m individual medley