Thursday, 29 May 2014

a surprising fact

Question: how rich do you reckon Vladimir Putin is? Think about it for a moment. The answer at the end of this post.

Do you know who wrote the Russian national anthem? I assume you presume it was Roger Doucet, the beloved tenor who belted out Oh Canada before Montreal Canadiens ice hockey matches in the nineties. You're right. On the other hand, there was a long time when the song had no lyrics, because the lyrics were a bit Staliny.

Roger was going to sing the anthems at the ice hockey world cup in 1996 and he wasn't having that. He dug out the old words, got a Russian prof at the university to 'fix them up' and sang away. The diplomats were nervous. Nothing much happened. Next year, the lyrics, almost word for word, were readopted.

Just in case you have forgotten, Flower of Scotland was written in 1967 by The Corries.

And I saw Inside Llewyn Davis the other day. It's set in 1961. It featured a song from my all-time top 5 favourite album, Singing the Fishing, a radio documentary with songs about the East Coast herring fleets. The song was written by Ewan MacColl, although it couldn't sound more trad. I assumed that it wasn't released until well after 1961, but it was actually first broadcast in 1960. Llewyn Davis probably heard it on iPlayer.

The Answer: I don't know. But people periodically say he's the richest man in the world, at anything form $40bn-$70bn. And other people say that there is no evidence he controls all that oil company stock that the main source, who is just some guy in Moscow, says he controls. Putin himself says he's the richest man in the world because, 'I collect emotions, I am wealthy in that the people of Russia have twice entrusted me with the leadership of a great nation such as Russia -- I believe that is my greatest wealth.'

He sounds like a nice guy. (He isn't one.)

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