The Third Leader: Rites of spring

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The Independent Online

Spring, we think, is finally here, marked by at least two fitting tributes to the resilience of the human spirit. Yesterday saw Oxford students continuing to jump off Magdalen Bridge into two feet of water, and today sees Engelbert Humperdinck in his home city of Leicester to celebrate his 70th birthday.

The more responsible among you will deplore the undergraduate activity; others see it as a Darwinian cull that usefully complements mods and finals. Whatever, this being Oxford, even the man who hires out punts by the bridge asked a question containing its own answer: "What's the point of jumping off a bridge into two feet of water to celebrate the beginning of spring?" Exactly so, and I'm sure they have a word for it, too.

But let us now move across the Midlands from Callow Youth to Garlanded Age and, to borrow a phrase, salute the indefatigability of Engelbert, ne Arnold Dorsey, aka The Hump, still touring after more than 40 years that have seen him sell 150 million records and earn himself some eight million fans. Eight million! He should at the very least be saluted for his restraint in not ordering them to do anything untoward, although I note they are all going to send him an "imaginary hug".

It's fitting, also, that such comparatively, well, unsung, success should be linked to Leicester. Thomas Cook, George Fox, Joe Orton, C P Snow, G Lineker, the Attenboroughs, Sue Townsend, Showaddywaddy and the chap who invented extreme ironing: could anywhere else match such a list? And yet this font of multifarious talent remains curiously unregarded. Perhaps they should start jumping in the Soar.

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