Friday, 20 July 2012

Faster, Higher, Stonger

The sun is out, I have a glass of wine by my computer, The Boy is killing himself playing squash, The Monkey is on his first sleepover and all I can hear are the dulcet tones of one twin whining "cuddle mummy" from her bed. On Monday I was wondering whether it's possible to get clinically depressed from too much rain so I stomped round to my friend Judith's house and sat there in silence for an hour while she probably wondered whether there was any point to my visit. Now everything suddenly seems rosier. Clearly this is because the greatest show on earth starts in 7 days and because we have booked a staycation. It's enough to make me stop being cynical. Just a short rant then before moving on to brighter things....

There's been a lot of bad press here about the Olympics since we were awarded the games on that fateful day, 24 hours before our underground system was blown up. Everyone has whinged about the cost of hosting such an event during a global economic crisis and there are plenty of things that are winding me up about it:

Tickets - a farce. The ticketing system has been a joke. First of all you had to apply for as many as you possibly could in the hope that you didn't actually get them all for fear of having to remortgage your house when your Visa bill came through. There were stories of people applying for 20,000 pounds worth and getting nearly all of them and then the rest of us got close to none. It was easier to buy a ticket for our own Olympics in New Zealand than it was here. And there was also only one real method of payment:

Visa. One of the main sponsors of 2012 is Visa which means that no other credit card is valid as a method of payment. So when you set up your official London 2012 ticket account and go to pay, if you don't have a Visa, you then have to apply for one. It's the same in the venues - food, drink and merchandise purchases can only be made with Visa or cash. And who carries cash these days? So, when buying that food or drink...............

it appears that only the most inappropriate forms of nutrition for any self-respecting wannabee sportsperson will be available. MacDonalds and Coca Cola are major sponsors. Those generators of top athletes - how could Usain Bolt be the fastest man on earth without a McMuffin for breakfast? And the official beer sponsor is Heineken. Couldn't they find any British sponsors??

A rail against Reebok. Linford Christie and his
Puma contact lenses. Presumably he didn't wear
them whilst running
And finally, those hallowed rings. Only the official sponsors are allowed to use them. I know you'd have to have landed from Mars (ideally not via Heathrow) not to realise this country is hosting the biggest sporting event on earth but it seems that anyone not officially connected with the games via a multi-gazillion-pound sponsorship deal is not even allowed to mention "The Olympics" in their advertising so well-known pub chains are having to refer to a "summer of sport" when inviting customers to watch events on a big screen whilst enjoying a pint of Heineken and a burger. Unfathomable though that a butcher near the sailing venue in Weymouth was asked to remove a sign displaying a ring of sausages and the words "fantastic 2012". Apparently I also need to watch what I wear when I go. We've been warned today that we may not get into venues wearing Nike trainers or Pepsi t-shirts. Not that I have or want a Pepsi t-shirt.

But, those are my only gripes. This is the biggest event to happen in this country in my lifetime so I am going to enjoy every minute. I have got myself mens' gymnastics tickets for next Saturday which means, even if I go on my own, I'm going to have a bloody good day out. I had considered taking The Monkey but will a 5 year old appreciate a ticket worth 95 quid and will he sit still for long enough for me not to wish he was performing his gymnastics on the floor with the chance of a medal? But then again, it might not happen in his lifetime so should I just treat him?

I know a lot of people are avoiding London for the duration of the games but I can't wait to see the buzz. I almost wish we still lived there. Which other city would have sport's most scantily-clad event played where the prime-minister could see it from his bedroom window (it's just occurred to me maybe that's why). So, despite all the cynicism it was refreshing to see this article in the New Zealand Herald. I don't know what the media coverage is like where you are but this proves
 that there is still an undeniable bond between
Horse Guards Parade - if they had that
sand delivered from Devon our
holiday is screwed
us and our furthest flung colonial outpost. 
They still think we're great!

What with Andy Murray only just missing out on Wimbledon, Bradley Wiggins just about to win the Tour de France and me running 8km today, I think we'll be just fine over the next few weeks. As the pub blackboards say , it's a great "summer of sport" so bring it on!


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