Mourning Glory

It’s been an interesting week. The remains of an ancient Thracian chariot was unearthed in Bulgaria and the next episode of Chariots of Fire in Beijing has begun. The razzmatazz has, of course, to be bigger, better, brighter and a lot more expensive than last time, with, so far, an American dream team – again – convincingly routing the host nation (what, I wonder, is a ‘tomahawk dunk’?) and a swimmer with an independence of muscular control so well-honed that he might as well not bother competing until the finals when he can haul off all eight golds in a handcart. Finally, here’s someone who might be able to topple the legendary Mark Spitz, whose perfect dentition and seven golds I remember seeing in Munich in 1972. This was the same Olympics when members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage by Black September, and twelve lives were lost.
Coincidentally, this week saw the fast of Tisha Be’av when the Jews mourn in commemoration of the destruction of the Temples, presumably also with loss of life. The Ninth of Av was the day, according to the rabbis, on which both great structures were destroyed, the first by the Babylonians in 586 BCE, the second by the Romans in 70 CE. On the eve of the day of mourning and fasting, religious Jews read the Book of Lamentations (Eicha), ascribed to the prophet Jeremiah who witnessed the destruction by the Babylonians. Commemoration of Tisha Be’av takes place most publicly at the only portion remaining, the Wall. Given a choice of the Water Cube or the Wall, I think the latter, in spite of these incomparably perfect synchronised 3m springboard gold medallists, giving China the lead in the medals table.

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