And so it’s over. I will miss it. I will have to find something else to watch for hours now. I might even have to get back to watching the news, which is a shame. Ahh, the Olympics. A celebration of human sporting achievement without much to be cynical about which has come as a bit of a shock to me. Yes there are still many things wrong with China but we can’t really complain because we buy most of our cheap products from them because of the way that their people are treated. What we have been reminded of is the fact that we can be proud of our country. In the final medals table we came 4th, only passed by Russia on the final day of competition, which is a fantastic achievement. Like it or not sport does bring people together. I give you the image of a Consultant, a patient and myself standing by the patient’s bed watching and cheering on the rowing. Pride is seeping out of everywhere. Even the cynical British press, who after the world championships last year had a picture of Christine Ohuruogu and the headline “don’t let this be the face of London 2012”, have in the last week had picture of her on the front pages and headlines about being proud to be British, even the Daily Mail had nothing to be down on. But now it is our turn to host the event and let us all hope that we have finally learnt that in order to win we need to fund sport properly, except football because they have enough money to fund themselves properly. You just need to look at are tremendous cycling and swimming teams to see how much difference proper funding makes. This was Chris Hoy’s 3rd Olympics, at his first the funding for cycling was so poor he had to provide his own tracksuit, not any more and now he has won 3 gold medals.
Those we complain and moan about sports funding being a waste of money are the same people who complain about arts funding being cut but they don’t understand. Arts broaden the mind and lift the soul, it is a cerebral event and is to be celebrated and funded properly but it rarely fills a nation with pride. A massive sporting success can and does do this. I give you the example of England winning back to ashes a few years ago, the country want mad for cricket and there was pride. That, of course, all faded when we went to Australia 18 months later and got stuffed but you see my point. Australians are a very good example of my, as yet, unmade point, continued sporting success gives a country pride in it’s self which leads to a confident nation and a confident nation can get things done. The whole nation feels better and I believe it will also lead to a higher level of social cohesion. One of the problems with Britain is a major lack of pride in it’s self. It isn’t really surprising given the none existent levels of joy in all of the British press but I don’t, for once, completely blame them. Since the cold war it has been the job of Government to keep the populace scared and controlled. This is finally starting to back fire. It has always been my view that the job of government is, as well as the general running of the state, is to help fill the nation with joy. I know it seems abstract but just making the schools work is not enough. Sports and Arts lift the spirits and doing well at them more so. Cheer the nation and we all will feel better. I promise you that it will work. One of the columns in the Observer described the Olympics as an expensive distraction. Well, yes it is. That’s the point. For 10 seconds, well 9.69 seconds, we can watch the incredible Usain Bolt and forget about the constant use of the phrase “credit crunch”. For us it exists to make us feel a little bit better when someone does well so we don’t have to think about the possibility of recession, even just for the briefest time.
So London, are you going to be ready? Of course you are. Even here, the country that invented the progress stifling committee, I think we can get it done. This is mostly because we have to. There are one or two things that worry me a little and they are all personal. I want to go and see several of the events, including the sailing that is taking place about 10 miles away from where I live in Dorchester. The problem is that Weymouth is impenetrable if you are in a car. Even on a slightly sunny day you can’t get into it, which isn’t usually a problem but for this I will want to be there. Now, they have talked about building a new road and then they talked about building a new road and then they talked about building a new road and then they talked about building a new road but as yet haven’t really done much more. I think that now is sort of a good time to GET THE HELL ON WITH IT. Roads take quite a long time to build and you only have 4 years to work out how to get all those people to Portland harbour. Whilst we are at it may I suggest some sort of mass transit system, maybe a monorail, Monorail, MONORAIL! Sorry, Simpsons flashback. Most of the track bed is still there, from Weymouth station to Portland in, say, 8 minutes. And after everyone has left scale down the service a bit and use it instead of the buses.
One of the other things that worries me is the security at the venues. In Beijing it took about 5 minutes to get through the security but I’ve been to a UK airport and I can assure you it takes a lot longer then that. Whilst I know that security is important so is my enjoyment of the event and standing for 2 hours whilst some grumpy bloke check babies nappies and pushchair (diapers and strollers for any American readers) for bombs or water not purchased from an official retailer is not my idea of fun. And so I come to my last point, much to the relief of anyone still reading and if you are, well done you, ticket pricing. The Games in London are our games. We have already paid for them with taxes and though the lottery and so everyone in the country has a right to be able to see them and so fair pricing for the tickets is essential. No more then £15 is my idea but I’m sure they will be more then that. Also I really don’t want to see hundreds of empty seat because they have gone to corporate hospitality companies and they people sitting in them haven’t finished their lunch yet. I give you the horrid example of the vast number of empty seats at the halfway line at every kick off of every international game at the new Wembley stadium. Please don’t let this happen. My idea is to have at least the first 10 rows all around the stadium as a family area, mums, dads and their extremely enthusiastic children and not some bored man who don’t really want to be there but the tickets were free from a sponsor. Sort these things out and I’m sure we are all in for a brilliant time. Bring it on, I can hardly wait.