Monday, 13 August 2012

Goodbye, Cool World

I have to confess (though it’s technically not true that I have to confess – it’s not like I’m sitting at the keyboard because someone’s standing over me with a loaded harpoon gun) that I wasn’t completely convinced about the whole Olympics thing.

I was quite the lardist when I was a surly teenager, so never really took part in sporting activities in school. In fact, I’m certain those were the lessons I most frequently truanted.

I have post-traumatic flashbacks of the zing noise a rugby ball makes when it punts off your face, first lesson on an already red-faced, frosty December morning; the agony of being punched right in the nuts when in a scrum; panting for miles, down the sloping school playing field, chasing a tennis ball that had been whacked past me, again; and standing around in a field, yawning, waiting for cricket to become interesting, which never happened.

I wasn’t quite in the camp of people who wanted to burn down the Olympics, melt all the winners’ medals and from that metal, cast bullets that could be used in an uprising against the Queen, but I wasn’t too enthusiastic about the arrival of the Games, and sometimes got quite irate about it.

Here were my main gripes:
  • It documents sport.
  • The military put ground-to-air missile launchers in civilian areas around London, and I’m thinking: you can’t shoot a jet down in a city as densely populated as this and not have massive casualties.
  • The whole Coca-Cola/McDonalds/Scientology sponsorship pact that outlawed mortal use of the number 2012.
  • Sebastian Coe.
  • David Cameron’s face… all the time… going on about the Olympics…
  • The fear that women beach volleyballers would all opt to wear shorts instead of thongs.
  • That bloody torch… everywhere… each day…
  • The over-zealous heavies acting as jogging body guards around the torch, who actually threw an old woman into a bush.
  • Sport… everywhere… for two long weeks…

All that changed when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II accompanied James Bond to a helicopter…

As with the Royal Wedding, The Queen’s Jubilee and Princess Diana’s funeral, the Olympics reaffirmed that Great Britain (and Northern Ireland) can really throw a groovy party… or whatever the youngsters say, nowadays. A sick party, maybe?

Anyway, so – like countless others, I’m sure – I pretty much relaxed to the idea of liking the Olympics, especially when there was such a great buzz about the country.

Watching Andy Murray get Gold in the singles tennis was my biggest highlight, though I was disappointed he didn’t start crying again.

Murray is the only person – amongst more than seven billion people on the planet – who can say he won the London 2012 Gold Medal for men’s singles tennis.

It was a bit of an epiphany to realise that people like Murray, Hoy, Wiggins and the outstanding Ennis could only have dreamt of those gold medals if they hadn’t dedicated themselves, absolutely, to the pursuit of personal perfection and transmuted what most people would allow to remain thoughts, into action and results.

What we put in, we get out, as so many of the athletes who contested these Olympics will know already. (I don’t think that rule applies at sperm banks, though.)

Sport aside (and thank chemical chance/God/Odin/L.Ron.Hubbard that cricket isn’t in the Olympics), I really enjoyed the pageant of the Games. We put on a great show and it was wonderful to be reminded just how rich Great Britain (and Northern Ireland)’s cultural heritage is… and that’s the way to capture the real heart of a people… not by looking at our politicians or assuming we’re all like Daphne from Frasier, or her supposedly English brother who sounded just like an American doing a very bad English accent.

Pink Floyd, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Queen, The Who, Madness, The Kinks, Genesis, Duran Duran, The Reynolds Girls, Titchy Straddler… the list of musical masters goes on and on…

It actually seems like Great Britain (and Northern Ireland) has been in party mode for the best part of more than a year, after the Royal Wedding, last whenever, and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilations, earlier this so-called Summer.

On behalf of Her Majesty, and on the behalf of cheddar cheese, Cadbury’s chocolate, Stone Henge, Big Ben, Piers Morgan, Monty Python and rain, I would like to extend my deepest thanks to everyone who participated in London 2012, whether that was by volunteering, competing, watching, or by flicking a channel and cheering your team from thousands of miles away.

And how nice that North Korea and Iran could win medals alongside the UK, the US and Iceland.

Perhaps all the problems of the world should be solved through competitive sport?


  1. Excellent games hosted by your country. Loved every moment,

  2. I couldn't agree more Les! Not being in the slightest bit sporty or athletic; I just couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. The extravagance (given the economic state of our poor nation,) the politicians vying for attention, with their “this is all down to me” attitude, and as for the blooming torch really, well, I just couldn’t see the point.

    But then something changed. The opening ceremony came along. It inspired. It made us feel patriotic. But more than anything, it made us feel proud. And thanks to the wonderful world of social media, this joy and hope spread across our green and pleasant land!

    London changed too. I’ve never seen complete strangers on the tube smiling at each other, talking, sharing their experiences and having fun. These same people, two weeks earlier would have sat there, stony faced, noses in books or headphones on actively avoiding any contact (heaven forbid) with their fellow passengers.

    Let’s just hope this positivity is here to stay!

  3. This made me laugh so much! :D THANK YOU! However...maybe the problems would be solved by other people doing the competitive sport being the lardist and all ;)

  4. Well done, Les. This is my favourite Lesism Blog so far and the description of school sports brought it all flooding back in minute and horrific detail.