I have for quite some time wanted to post about the epic insanity that is the London Olympics. Then just today I found an epic take-down of the whole nonsense in The Guardian by Larry Elliot. He is spot on. His central point is that the 1948 games made a profit and this will cost a fortune. To be honest Mr Elliot (and I like his schtick overall here - never read him before but he is no Keynesian which is surprising for The Graun) doesn’t make a point I would have done so I shall make it now. Hey, not blaming the fella. He makes an awful lot of good points.
Various cities have gone to extreme lengths and much expense to host the Olympics in order to attract tourists or “put themselves on the map”. Can this honestly be said about London? It is and has been for over a millennium one of the truly great cities of the Universe. I adore it with an unrequited passion. Indeed a couple of months back I saw on the front of the Indy a story that the Games will harm tourism to London this Summer. This chimed with me. Hotels are putting prices up, there will be ZiL-lanes for corrupt IOC wonks and a security lockdown that will make North Korea look like Key West during Fantasy Fest. Yes, it was a Burt Bacchanalian alright and the birds I saw wearing nothing but body-paint and flip-flops were fitter than those. Either that or I had had rather too many mojitos. Now when we booked the honeymoon neither me nor my bride to be knew what Fantasy Fest was. I roughly assumed it would be more JRRT than DD (the latter doesn’t involve rolling a 3D6). I was fruitfully wrong. I expected to see computer science grads wearing elf ears and reciting Icelandic sagas. Instead I saw hordes of folks having fun in bars whilst wearing virtually nothing, drunk as skunks and a generally jovial atmosphere. I got a piccy somewhere of a gay male couple painted as lizards. I was struck (not for the first time in the USA) about how genuinely liberal the USA is. Last time I was in Blackpool for example (how dare I compare the Keys to that epic shit-hole!) it was full of Scousers pissed on Carling having fights - sometimes with themselves.
But anyway, all those fun and frolics is self financed. The Olympics this year in London will cost the tax-payer a staggering GBP 11 billion. That is 11,000,000,000 quids. That is almost a respectable defence budget. Well, for Belgium anyway.
Anyway, the reason for that excursion was to tell a story worth telling. Just read the whole thing because I could get away with that excursion because he says it all really. It says everything that has gone wrong with our polity since the war.
And this is the really bizarre twist. We keep hearing about how this is the greatest show on Earth. Now if that really is the case it ought to be profitable as it was in 1948. I mean PT Barnum even earlier had the greatest show on Earth and made a mint. Hell’s teeth the likes of Camerons Mackintosh and James aren’t exactly dropping their pants for food are they? What the fuck is up with us? On the other hand Cameron iDave (and Gideon) and Broon and Blair before that are just gang-raping us. And they are only doing this because we let them.
That 11 billion isn’t just an epic sum (though it is). I mean we are building a handball court in East London. Who the fuck gives a toss about handball? What is handball anyway? I mean Attlee’s mob inherited a buggered economy but hey there was a bloody good excuse for debt at 250% of GDP after fighting and winning the most epic war in history (by the way 11 billion quids is just a shade under Britain’s entire GDP for 1948). What have we got for serially pissing monies up the wall?
No it isn’t just an epic sum it is four times over what we told the IOC it would cost. Look at it this way. If quoted you 500 quid for a computer (and you can build a pretty cool machine for that) and then delivered it and said, actually it’s two grand I believe I would leave your home or business wearing it.
In 1948 the Ollies cost a bit over 700,000 (under projection) and made an operating profit of 30,000. Bloody Hell! But of course this is all unpatriotic moaning. I mean expecting professional sportspeople to you know be like professional and you know make money by be entertaining enough to make a living and all. I might as well kick the Churchill dog to death. Oooh No!
And if they aren’t why do we owe them a living? It don’t happen with footie. Or bands. I mean the Stones never extracted money from me by threat of force. Nobody forced me as a point of patriotism with a gun to have to pay for the Lion King on the London Stage. The computer games industry doesn’t extort money from me. Why is athletics allowed to?
Because it involves bizarre national pride in a vaguely sinister tomorrow belongs to way… Well whoever we have collectively put our knackers on the anvil for this jamboree. Now what is the last refuge of a scoundrel again?