Laz goes to the Olympic Closing Ceremony at Victoria Park

13 08 2012

So we’ve had our spectacle and you can tell from my whoops in the video it was all very impressive.

It was impossible not to be caught up in the ridiculous moment. While Russell Brand was up on the big screen cavorting around the stadium on his magic dream wagon drunken serfs whizzed over my head on the Boris Johnson zipline. It was a truly British spectacle, silly, slightly self deprecating and fun.

It is the Monday after the big party and the euphoria of the crowd and our Olympic successes have died down so now what?
The news is already reporting that the Olympics have done fuck all for the economy and it has cost each and every one of us £200 in a time when many of us are struggling to keep a roof over our head and food banks are just an everyday fact of life.

That’s right, the glitzy, shiny utopia of Britain (or should that be England) we’ve sold to the world can’t actually afford to feed itself were it not for charity and pity.

I, just as much as anyone felt a patriotic surge as our athletes did incredible things and won with humility and a grace that other countries seem to lack. Good for them, nobody can take that away from them.

But it’s a helluva lot of money to spend to “inspire” a generation to sporting excellence. £24 billion or thereabouts just to get a load of gold medals? I’m happy for the winners, really I am but it’s not like they’ve cured cancer, built homes for the homeless or even created great works of art that inspire generations.
It’s true, I’ve never really been a sporting person so perhaps sporting achievements are lost on me. To me I find the whole thing too abstract to see any real benefit to society from it and people will argue with me that not every achievement has to be so worthy.
Climbing a mountain or sailing around the world could be argued to be a similar kind of selfish achievement, as in few other people will benefit from the accomplishment. Yet I find those feats far more impressive than running a few seconds faster than everyone else down a track.
Perhaps I find feats of endeavour where it is Humanity versus Nature rather than pitting one person against another more rewarding because at least when you’ve climbed that summit or sailed that difficult voyage there isn’t someone in second place who feels like a failure.
Mind you, as a species we have a habit of making everything into a competition of winners and losers, so maybe it is in our firmware to behave like this (and is a good argument for updating that outdated biological firmware in my opinion!)

To come back to the original topic it is good that many of us feel proud to be British today, but when the Olympic hangover wears off and the vast gaps between the haves and the have nots become apparent again will we still feel proud, or just feel ever so slightly cheated?

How many of you reading this could actually afford to go see an Olympic event?
Did you feel included or just felt like you had to go along or be seen as an outsider? Did you feel like a citizen or a customer?

As a resident of London and one with barely a penny to rub together at the moment I can say I’ve not been to one single event, not been able to afford any of the overpriced crap forced on us and when I have turned up to free events have felt like cattle herded through high security cordons and afraid to step out of line for fear of being jumped by security guards, police officers and the army.

Just to get into Victoria Park last night we had to wait an hour in line not because it was too busy inside but because every single person had to be searched and their bags put through an expensive airport scanner to make sure we weren’t carrying in our own food and drink.

The more I look back at the past two weeks the more I feel confused and slightly taken for a ride.

What was it really all about?

How has my life been enriched by all this?

Were we all, as our American cousins put it “drinking the Kool-aid?”



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