Thursday, March 6, 2008

Gandhi and Gary Lineker: mortal enemies

Has anyone here ever been to Leicester? It's a cracking place to go watch rugby [my dad has season tickets there], the Indian food is phenomenal, and once upon a time, they had a pretty good EPL football team under now-Aston Villa savior Martin O'Neill.

Well, football is still very much a part of the local consciousness, and it's come to a head this week regarding plans for a new statue of Mahatma Gandhi in the city center.

It appears not everyone's behind the idea, and the alternate proposal for the statue? The whitest man alive, Mr. Nice Guy, and the man whose face sold a million packets of crisps: Gary Lineker.

This is going to be awesome.

Local charity Samanwaya Parivar put forth the application for the Gandhi statue, citing the vibrant multicultural element that Leicester has developed over the last decade. Leicester has a high Asian population, and is predicted to be Britain's first white-minority city in over 12 years.

Said Leicester local politician Keith Vaz:

"Gandhi's philosophy of brotherhood among those of different religions and ethnicity should be honoured and celebrated. A statue of Gandhi will be an excellent symbol of Leicester's commitment to diversity."
Can't argue with that, right?

Unless your name is Lee Ingram, a local who doesn't like the idea of segregating his town with the proposed statue and started the "No Gandhi Statue" online petition.

Ingram is pissed, and wants something different for Leicester:

"Gandhi is a historical figure connected to India. He has no connection to English culture or the English, therefore a statue of him would be more suitably erected in India. This would be yet another symbol of segregation in Leicester and it would be something else for the Asian community. We have local heroes here, Lineker or the writer, Joe Orton."

I've never heard of Joe Orton, but I do know quite a bit about Lineker.

He was England's most beloved footballer for over 15 years, putting in time at Leicester [95 goals in 194 games], Everton [30 in 41], Barcelona [43 in 103], Spurs [67 in 105], and finally, for J-League club Nagoya Grampus Eight [9 goals in 23 games].

Lineker was capped 80 times for England, scoring in more than half of the games he played, and he was known for being a nice guy: in 17 years of football service, he was never shown a yellow or red card.

Since then, he's made quite the name for himself as a pundit and smiling idiot in a plethora of commercials, including putting his name on Walkers Crisps [the salt and vinegar flavour was renamed "Salt and Lineker" for quite some time] for most of the 90s.

Of course Lineker is not involved in any of this, but honestly, this is a fucking hilarious story.

What will prevail: peace and harmony, or an amazing football player? A middle-aged white man, or the figurehead of non-violent protest? The most English footballer ever, or the man who helped drive the English out of India?

I cannot wait to see how this plays out. I'm sure, given the neutered state of political battles these days, that a plan to make two statues will be set in motion, probably side-by-side. Heck, they might even try to have the two statues posing with arms around one another, maybe even a thumbs-up.

So, I put the question to you.

Gandhi, or Gary Lineker: who would you pick, and why?


Precious Roy said...

He has no connection to the English other than driving them as a colonial power out of his homeland.

Nope, not relevant at all.

The NY Kid said...

I would vote for a statue of Ben Kingsley, since he played Ghandi and looks like Lineker. Problem solved!

Tuffy said...

There's a reason you don't see too many Ulysses S. Grant statues in Georgia.

ΓΌ75 said...

Sherman ones either.