Running With The (K)night

I just bought a new dictionary and looked up the word Olympics.

I may have remembered it wrongly but I’m almost sure it went something like, “Pain in the ass sports day for show offs. Useful for bankrupting countries, upsetting locals, and leaving wildlife legacy (see White Elephants).”

For those who don’t live in the English capital city let me give you an insight in to the conversations all Londoners seem to be having right now as we get ever closer to the opening of the 2012 Olympics.

People here fall in to one of two camps. The Mayor, and his organiser pal Lord Coe, says something like “Isn’t it great? It will put us on the world map. It’s worth every penny”. Everyone else says “Bloody waste of time. Traffic will be horrendous and we won’t get to work. We’re paying for some jumping and running with sticks. No wonder the country has no money.”

As far as I’m aware London is already on the world map – left of Paris, right of Dublin – so if this is a glorified advert I want my money back. It all seems so short sighted that it was surely pre ordained that the 2012 Olympics mascot would turn out to be a cuddly toy with one eye. Presumably Mr Magoo turned them down.

Already signs have gone up warning us all not to drive in London from next week as congestion will be apocalyptic, ground to air missiles have been installed on top of apartment blocks, and there’s a no fly zone over the east of London.

Stadium security, we now know, will have to be handled by our army because the original company, G4S, which is headed by the worst mullet haircut this side of 1985, has decided they can’t, after all, provide the right number of properly trained security guards. They’ve left it to the very last minute to let us know, of course, with their P.R. and Communications department stuck in the dark ages - a bit like their boss’s hair style.

Near to us the Wimbledon tennis championship courts have been turned over to the organisers of 2012 so they can change the floral hanging baskets to Olympic colours. A necessary expense I’m sure you’ll agree. Better to throw out the thousands of pounds of arrangements that looked so brilliant last week for the Championship finals so that everyone will leave the Olympics saying “the tennis wasn’t up to much but at least the flower hues replicated that of the running track.” Being colour blind may I say “thanks for nothing”.

As spectators we are paying for this sports day twice – once through taxes and again through ticket prices. My friend has bought two tickets for the swimming races costing just under one thousand pounds, and for this he gets to sit and watch the splashing for two hours and then he’s thrown out and replaced by others. He’s been told he can’t take food or even water in to the stadium as he has to buy from official vendors, and the only credit card he can use is from Visa. 

Meanwhile sponsors and their connected clients, with their kids and grannies twice removed, have been battling with great British sportsmen like Will. I. Am and Japanese clients of Samsung to run with the torch through rain soaked streets of Britain spreading the good news.

Personally I’m giving it all a miss. Rightly or wrongly though, I’ll be there in the stadium watching the Paralympics which seems to me to be more about the original Olympic ideal than watching Usain Bolt preen and kiss himself all over. I’ll make sure to set out for the stadium a month ahead to get through the traffic.

So, if you want to annoy this London resident, or any other, right now just start the conversation with “you must be so excited about the Olympics.” Then run away as fast as Lord Coe used to do. Or just duck!