Thursday, 12 July 2012

A Greek tragedy

Ot maybe farce would be a better choice of word.  But did the Greeks do farce?  No, don't let's get diverted down that track.  Nor shall I allow myself to be diverted into a discussion of the euro and the problems of the economies of southern European countries such as Italy, Spain...    and Greece.

When it was announced that London had "won" the right to host the 2012 Olympic Games I was not one of those jumping for joy in Tafalgar Square.  No indeed.  You see, cynic that I was (and still am) I forecast that It Will All End In Tears.  Now, with barely two weeks to go before the opening ceremony, my opinion remains resolutely the same.

Yes, the run-down area that was east London appears to have been transformed.  I say "appears" because (a) I didn't know Stratford before and (b) I haven't actually seen what it is like now.  I am highly sceptical about the views shown on our television screens, wondering just how much care has been taken to position the cameras just exactly so.  Cynical?  You bet!

But even if Stratford has been gentrified, not everybody round there is over the moon.  There is the factory owner who has been told he will be unable to send out lorries during the games, effectively bringing his business to a standstill.  Transport across London generally is forecast to be in a diabolical state and employers have been urged to allow their staffs to work from home rather than commute into London.  That is all very well, but many jobs have to be office/factory/shop based and those employees just have to travel.

And we are told that there will be thousands upon untold thousands of foreign tourists trying to get into the country.  I say "trying" because there are huge problems in the UK Border Agency.  People have been queuing for 2 or 3 hours to reach immigration control at Heathrow airport - and that is in normal times!  The head of the Border Agency resigned just this week having been put in place last year to sort out just those problems.

When that original announcement was made in Singapore, we were told that the cost of staging the Olympics would fall largely on the residents of London.  I can't remember why that was: possibly because they were thought to be the ones to benefit most from the "legacy" of the arenas and accommodation to be contructed.  I didn't believe them then and it seems I was right.  In any case, why should any country pay such money on sideshows such as the opening ceremony?  It is said that the London ceremony will cost £41 million.  That right, forty-one million pounds!  That, in any case, strikes me as obscene - but why couldn't they just hire the massed bands of the Brigade of Guards for less than £41 thousand?

And there is more.  Yesterday the company contracted to provide security announced that it has been unable to recruit, let alone train, sufficient people to do the job.  Accordingly, another 3,500 troops are on stand-by, bringing the number of armed forces personnel involved to one tenth of the total forces.

Maybe I am just an old curmudgeon, but this mass hysteria we are seeing on out television each night around the Olympic Torch Relay is something I find deeply disturbing.  Have the authorities released clouds of laughing gas or similar to whip up such frenzies?

No, I think that after it is all over and we find out - if we ever do - just how much it has cost each and every one of us in this country both directly and indirectly (commercial sponsorship from banks bailed out by the taxpayer?) there will be tears all round.


Yesterday being Wednesday, it was the day for washing the bed linen.  We were drinking coffee when the machine came to the end of its cycle and the Old Bat and I discussed whether we should risk putting the washing on the line as it appeared a reasonable day.  However, showers were forecast and we decided to play safe and use the tumble drier.  Just ten minutes after I had started that machine there was a roll of thunder and the rain came lashing down.  It rained on and off until after I had walked to dog in the afternoon - and got myself thoroughly soaked.

This morning, though, the view from the bedroom window was proper summer.

No comments: