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Shafted Through Five Ringpieces.

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?

13 Comments

  1. john says:

    …..and to top it all it was announced this week that the womens beach volleyball teams have been instructed to wear more sober clothing than usual at the London Olympics. We may be leaders when it comes to pomp, ceremony, and overspending, but its not a patch on the po-faced PC humbug at which we excel.

  2. john in cheshire says:

    NickM, my sentiments. It’s just the Millenium Dome all over again but many times more expensive. I read something over a year ago and I think the final cost is going to be more in the region of £15-£18bn. And you can bet your life that Mr Coe and his cohorts will come out of all this with very healthy bank balances. Whereas us peons will be left to pick up the tab for the next 20 years; with edifices to their vanity crumbling and rusting away. Yet another Blair/Mandelson legacy. But as the incoming labour lot in 1997 should have cancelled the Millenium Dome, this lot should have cancelled the Olympic Games.

  3. Sam Duncan says:

    “That is almost a respectable defence budget. Well, for Belgium anyway.”

    It’s about a month’s deficit, is what it is (if my sums are right). So much for the savage cuts and austerity.

    You’re absolutely right, and it’s true of any non-core business the Government gets up to: if it’s so fucking marvellous, why do we have to be forced to pay for it? The BBC, the Arts Council(s), the NHS, London 2012, Glasgow 2014, “privatised” public transport (hell, anything “privatised” that hasn’t really been – I’m looking at you, Capita), wind power… they’re all the same: spectacularly badly-managed money pits that wouldn’t last ten minutes in the real world.

  4. NickM says:

    jic,
    What really got me was hearing that after three (four?) weeks use the stadium was going to be dismantled and much of the swimming pool. Who in any form of rationality builds a mega-stadium for a month? Think of our football clubs. Some of those stadia are over a hundred years old. Hell’s teeth even Man City’s Etihad Stadium which is quite new was built for the Commonwealth games and before a litre of concrete was poured it was effectively sold to the club. Spurs (I think) wanted the London one and for some twisted reason were told to sod off.

  5. Ian B says:

    and to top it all it was announced this week that the womens beach volleyball teams have been instructed to wear more sober clothing than usual at the London Olympics

    …thus providing more fuel for my “PC Is A Second Wave Of Victorianism” hypothesis… :)

  6. Just saying says:

    Smokers contribute an additional £11 billion to the public purse EVERY year. High price to pay for second class citizen status.

  7. Lynne says:

    My initial reaction to Bliar announcing that London would host the 2012 Olympics was oh fuck!. With the growing media overkill feeding frenzy coverage on the run up to the event I’ve modified my reaction to oh fuck off! accompanied by a well rehearsed twitch of my zapping digit.

    And don’t get me started on that abortion of a logo.

  8. Ian B says:

    There’s actually a good answer to this-

    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?

    Compare though; you do have to pay for opera, ballet, the BBC, orchestras, Shakespeare and The Duchess Of Malfi on unicycles by a radical left theatre group. The reason we have to pay for these things, and sports, is that they are considered “Improving” and part of the new Victorian ideal was the use of such things to “improve” the untermensch, that is, us.

    Prior to that period, sports was just games. Mucking about after church, kicking a ball, bit of archery, what have you. The first wave Puritans were famously furiously against such things because they distracted people from Holiness and might be a bit enjoyable. But teh Second Wave Puritans latched onto them for a very simple reason- distraction.

    Once Puritanism had moved into a more general “lifestyle” thing, and in the process become fanatically obsessed with sinful activities, it was hoped that forcing young men to exhaust themselves would distract them from sins like drinking and shagging. If you look at the history of the Olympics type games, or the sudden formation of zillions of football teams (centred around churches, the new “Boys’ Clubs” and workplaces), the driving force was the idea of moral improvement. It was all supposed to divert their energies into morally healthy stuff rather than beer and titties, and was also a world away from the original Olympics, the purpose of which was primarily the same as Beach Volleyball, but with the object of fascination being oiled-up young men rather than girls.

    Hence we have all this bollocks about Sports supposedly being an “ideal” and sportspersons are supposed to be “role models” and so on. And billions of quid spent on it.

    Always dubious, State sponsorship of sports. The Moron Civilisation had a “ball game”, famously. It wasn’t about having fun. It was about delivering more sacrificial victims for their bloody gods to feast on. At least the Olympics isn’t that bad.

  9. Paul Marks says:

    The country is going backrupt and money (endlessly increasing amounts of money) is being spent on this nonsense.

    Words fail me – so I will stop here.

  10. Mr Ed says:

    The UK is becoming more like East Germany every day without the (socialist relative) efficiency, and the relatively high medal count. (How are the former ‘Ossies’ doing now, with the benefits of Western Sports Science? hmmm….)

    I always hated Sports Day at School, but I only had to turn up to watch, not have the cost of it docked from my pocket money.

    Whilst the area around Stratford would benefit from regenerating, almost no one asks why it degenerated in the first place. (Clue: taxes, regulation, welfare etc.)

  11. Sharon Ferguson says:

    A friend and I are deliberately waiting until WELL after the Olympics before revisiting London (which I enjoyed a lot during my first visit, although I was more eager to get out into the ‘hinterlands’ than peruse urbanity.)

    Is October a good month to visit? And what part of October?

  12. RAB says:

    The glorified School Sports Day we are graciously hosting this year at mind boggling cost is bad enough, but at least it is sport of some kind.

    But what the fuck is this all about?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2119607/The-arts-festival-tied-Olympic-Games-thats-costing-5-4m.html

  13. Sam Duncan says:

    Bloody hell, RAB. I suppose the only consolation is that £5.4m is a drop in the ocean.

    <blockquote.The artist says people will come to associate the memory of seeing the plane with the Olympics

    …which might take their minds off the eye-watering bill.

    The players will be among the most recent generation of new members of Scottish society and I want to celebrate their contribution to modern Scotland

    Wouldn’t it be cheaper to have a new kitchen put in, or buy your week’s shopping at Lidl?

    It makes you think about our identity as an island nation, what it is to compete for your country. I think Nowhereisland can act as a really powerful poetic metaphor for climate change without badgering and without compromising itself as a work of art.

    But chiefly it makes you think Alex Hartley is a twat with more taxpayers’ money than sense.

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