Well now. Obviously this was written before the decision was announced on Big Wednesday, but it actually made it into print ! The MA Industrial Design course at Central produces an annual document that's much more than just a degree show catalogue. This little bit of invective was in it, nicely laid out by Sean.
Some time last year, in addition to the usual tourist influx, London played host to another, more purposeful, group of overseas visitors: The olympic inspection committee. Now, you can’t believe everything (or anything) that you see, hear or read, but apparently this wasn’t a modestly sized delegation coming over for a presentation by some of K-Liv’s crew; no. There were thirteen hundred of them. I don’t know what an olympic inspector looks like, but I picture an army of eerily similar Midwich Cuckoos, only with a bit more Leni Riefenstahl high-diver flavour, all wearing Alan and Alanis Partridge sports-casual blazers and armed with clipboards, digital cameras and Smart cars.
Of course, I could be wrong.
I hope they flung themselves into the London experience with gusto, enjoying such indigenous specialities as being shat on by pigeons, stabbed, spending an hour or two on a crowded tube train stopped in a tunnel, being caught in the bendy bits of bendy buses and getting incontinently drunk on overpriced Stella Artois.
When foreigners ask me what London’s like, I tell them, “It’s dirty, cold, damp, expensive, unfriendly and difficult to navigate geographically and socially. I love it. You should definitely go there.” And I do, and they should. And that’s why I don’t want London to host the olympics; they’re a travesty, an abject waste of time, money, resources and, I notice, valuable advertising space which could be used to promote such under-exposed worthy causes as McDonalds or FCUK.
But aren’t the olympics the pinnacle of human achievement ? No, they’re a playground pissing contest, glorified to an unbelievable degree by tenuous links with tradition and supposed international unity. Athens is now full of unused, crumbling cowboy-built facilities; just maintaining them is costing the city millions of euros. We don’t really need more windswept Millennium Domes and Sunbury Cross Shopping Centres. Although, having said that, hosting the games could really raise the profile of our oft-overlooked city; people in faraway nations like France will finally be aware of this unassuming little village.
OK. But what’s actually my problem ? Am I that bothered by the city’s haemorrhaging finances and the clogging of its infrastructure and media arteries ? (Note laboured, but consistent, medical metaphors).
Not really. What gets my goat is the utter, stupid pointlessness of it all, or rather the total refusal to even consider admitting that it’s all just a bit silly, and that the incredible prestige and coverage given to the whole thing is, perhaps, somewhat disproportionate.
Ellen Macarthur sailed a boat round the world. The yacht was called Homebase or B & Q or something, which is where the story’s future-myth potential hits its first iceberg. Somehow I can’t imagine old seadogs relating, in hushed tones, the legend of plucky little Ellen and the good ship Do It All. Branding aside, an obvious cheap jibe (more lumpen thematics, sorry) would be that she departed from, and returned to, the same place, and consequently could have stayed where she was and gone down the pub. That’s a glib criticism. However, here’s the thing: She set her own restrictions. I imagine that shuttle crews, for instance, sometimes circumnavigate the globe in a few hours. Macarthur, though, chose to go by sea, alone, with only wind power, which seems terribly bold and romantic, but do you remember that bloke who did the marathon in a Victorian diving suit ? It’s the same thing. Artificial, self-imposed hindrances, but for some reason, Macarthur’s effort is seen as noble, diving suit man’s is just daft.
I once left a party in Mile End, intending to walk home to Hackney (about a couple of miles), but my orientation was a hundred and eighty degrees out of whack; I first realised something was up when I came to a four-lane flyover that wasn’t there the week before. The resulting journey was roughly elliptical and seven-and-a-half miles long, which at least meant I didn’t get a hangover. Such was never my intent, but I’d undertaken a voyage, labouring under restrictions imposed – by myself – on my navigational and motive capacities. Same thing, just without sponsorship or press coverage.
As Alistair Cookie once said on Monsterpiece Theater, “Me digress.”
So, yes, the olympics, or rather Les Olympiques Paris Deux Mille Douze as I hope they’ll be known. To an extent, artificial restrictions impose – ‘scuse the pun – a level playing field. Rules must be adhered to; shoes, vaulting poles, bikes and genders must conform to IOC regulations. This is where a tremendous bit of hypocrisy arises; the nations of the world do indeed come together, but with the intent of Getting One Over on the others and bending the rules to breaking point, whether by means of technology, pharmacology, rapid repatriation or just plain piss-taking. (I have in mind here the German “walking” gold medallist who was clearly leaving the ground with each step and so might as well have taken a taxi). The idea that nations’ reputations are at stake is absurd; countries may just as well be judged by their cheeses. Imagine the opening ceremony; a parade of Camembert, Halloumi, Cheddar, Gouda, Emmenthal and Monterey Jack, all with flags stuck in them. Savoury !
Somewhat spurious design-related bit: I forget which year it was, but I recall the British team being clothed by the oddly-named brand View From. Actually, this is Marks and Spencer’s sportswear label, and as such, couldn’t be much more appropriate; after all, what’s more British than Marks’n’Sparks ?
Harris tweed is. The image of Denise Lewis in a pair of thornproof plus fours has a certain appeal, although the material’s natural waterproof qualities could prove a hindrance to the swim team. Might be useful for Paula Radcliffe, though...of course, for the opening parade, the traditional stripy shellsuit simply wouldn’t be up to scratch. The team could rock Barbour jackets, green Hunter wellies and corduroy flat caps instead.
But that was last century; a picture-postcard ideal of a bygone era. Let’s bring things up to date with a style that really reflects modern Britain. Our nation has a proud history of rampaging around the world, imposing its ways with absolutely no regard for local culture; the Crusades, the Raj, and now...the Chav ! (You probably saw that one coming but, really, I’m right on the money, am I not ?)
We’ve been scumming up the world’s sunnier coastal regions for decades now, so why shouldn’t the olympic team reflect our modern cultural contributions ?
From the top:
Rolled-brim baseball hat with fake Burberry (“Brurberry”) print.
Team shirt: 100% nylon football style, manufactured by Nickelson, with plenty of sponsorship logos, such as Chavscum.com, Starbucks, Ryanair and purveyor of idiotic ringtones Jamster.
Baggy shorts, again 100% nylon for optimum promotion of sweaty scrotal sacs and yeast infections.
Socks: White, pack of three pairs, purchased from local market stall, origin: Unknown.
Shoes: There really is only one option; the undisputed King of Footwear: The white leather Reebok Classic. Oh yes.
Bluetooth earpieces, sovereign rings and duty-free Marlboro Lights optional. There, don’t our boys and girls look grand ?
And, after four years’ team selection, cutting-edge training, dieting, shoe design and drug test avoidance, what does it all come down to ? The most hotly-anticipated event: The men’s hundred metre final. The winner crosses the line one or two hundredths of a second before the next guy. So ? They both caught the bus. And if they have any manners they’ll ask the driver to wait for me.
Ah, yes. Some of you reading this will know that a road accident a couple of years ago left me disabled, and you may well be thinking that my contempt for these feats of strength and speed may just be sour grapes from someone who can no longer walk on his own or raise his own hands. No. I always thought the games were rather stoopid; my current situation has merely put them into perspective: They, and the vast cirque des idiots accompanying them, are very, very stupid indeed. Allez Paris !
Merde. And it's "Marlboro" isn't it ?