Friday, 10 August 2012

Fighting Over the Olympic "Legacy"

The Olympic Games aren't even finished yet and the post-Games political posturing has already begun though one might argue for the pompous buffoon Boris Johnson it never really stopped.

Others though are taking a very different line including the superb Simon Jenkins in yet another thought-provoking article in Wednesday's London Evening Standard;

Yet his (and mine) are lone voices amidst the cacophony of patriotic cheerleading and positive spin which now dominates much of the media. Yes, the Games have mostly gone well and the British team has (mostly) done very well but it hasn't been the triumphant bacchinalia that so many claim and the damage done to the London economy outside the Stratford bubble is not inconsiderable.

I did my own touring yesterday - the New Zealand House was closed because they had managed to use a barbecue to cause a fire while the Austrian House had become a pub for City office-workers. The Danish House at St Katherine's Dock was truly wonderful and was a pleasant oasis. Plaudits to the Danes for a well-conceived well-managed experience.

Yet we now know the Africa Experience didn't pay its bills and some of the other Houses have gouged visitors with entry fees and overpriced food and drink.

The cheerleaders in the press are extolling the Police as a symbol of London - well, most of them didn't have a clue where they were (the ones outside Euston Station certainly didn't) or what they were supposed to be doing. The stations are full of under-employed "advisers" and one can only speculate how their return from "work" will affect the unemployment figures and who do you think has paid for all these extra Police and unwanted volunteers as well as the Army in their less than salubrious accommodation? Go on, guess.

You got it.

The Olympics has been a benefit for doormen and security personnel, most of whom with all the charm and grace of an arthritic hippo. This bunch of semi-literate half-trained thugs will doubtless return to the black economy or wherever they came having trousered some taxpayers' money for standing round holding ropes and generally bossing people about.

Anyway, the political post-Games posturing has begun and straight out of the blocks (pun intended) is politics answer to a question no one asked - Boris Johnson - who apparently thinks that all children should do two hours compulsory PE every day though whether he actually did that at Eton or not seems open to question.

This ludicrously impractical piece of nonsense (where do the children at my local primary school, surrounded by roads and houses, go for their compulsory PE? Wanstead Flats ? Perhaps they can use the Olympic Stadium and its facilities with the pricate sector coughing up for transport? I know - it ain't gonna happen, is it?) typifies the Conservative approach. They are as much in favour of centralising and authoritarianism as any doctrainaire socialist.

There's nothing a Tory likes more then moralising or telling people how to live their lives. This is the problem when you put Tories into power - they don't just want to run the country, they want to run your life too.

The useless Sports Minister Hugh Robertson (how about spending a midweek afternoon at a minor race meeting, you hopeless cretin?) is now regaling us to support the Paralympics while the coterie of cheerleading busybodies which now inhabits the press are clamouring for us all to get involved with local sport or put on our trainers.

I suspect my local streets won't be full of runners on a dark, cold and wet January night - drug dealers and addicts maybe but not sporting types.

I'm a 51-year old man - my exercise is walking, gardening and 30 minutes on the Wii Fit (and you could do a lot worse than provide every school with Wii equipment including balance boards if you want to encourage exercise). I'd love to play a little tennis and cricket but I've neither the time nor the money to join a club or buy equipment. I just want somewhere where I go, play a few games of tennis or practice my batting locally.

Another aspect that irritates me is the constant preoccupation with exercise for the young. Older people (of whom there are a considerable and growing number) need to keep active too. Why doesn't Britain organise an Olympic Games for the over-50s celebrating activity among the older population?

Perhaps the Duchess of Cambridge, who seems to have nothing better to do than to turn up at every gold-medal event and look pretty, could do something relevant with her life and become the patron of the "Older Olympics" and actively promote it with her father-in-law?

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