The dreadful news last month hit me as hard as it must have hit you all. The papers were full of it, the TV sent out a non-stop barrage of reporting. We ‘won’ the Olympics! What a tragedy for everyone but especially Londoners.
Of course some people will not agree with me that this ‘win’ is the biggest avoidable disaster of the century so far. They will point to the wonderful benefit of the coming slum clearances in the Essex area to make room for exciting stadiums, running tracks and other such sporting delights. They will gleefully tot up the sums of money that will be injected into our ailing tube system and potholed roads. I can certainly see that for anyone in the construction industry with sufficient connections in Government, this will be a time to make vast profits. But have we considered the drawbacks?
Firstly we will have to get used to the odiously smug face of‘Lord 'Seb' Coe grinning out at us from various media for years to come. A Lord indeed! Once upon a time the ability to run a few tenths of second better than someone else was cause for a manly handshake and perhaps a drink afterwards. Being elevated to the peerage was not normally an option. I realise that we have very few sporting superstars in this country, being more concerned in our wonderful British fashion with taking part than winning, but even so.
Secondly we will be blighted with these stadiums for years afterward. As they will be built by British craftsmen no one seriously expects them to remain in useful condition for very long after the games have ended; the concrete will crack, weeds will colonise the empty seating and a mournful wind will blow down the deserted tunnels. The swimming pool will turn a bilious shade of green and become an open plague pit. As for the Olympic Village, it will soon be realised that what may be good enough for foreigners for a few weeks will not suit the kind of people that will be rehoused into it afterward. The walls will fall down, the roofs will leak and gangs of feral youths will claim the streets as their own.
And of course the final disaster will be the impossibility of geting a restaurant booking in London. The good ones will be full of foreign journalists cheerfully embezzling their employers’ expenses and the bad ones will simply be full. We have a vast number of restaurants in London, but even so the massive increase in the population of the city will result in far greater demand than supply. Already I hear that a number of French restaurants have put in early orders for foie gras and over in France itself they are busily preparing fresh wooden boards for nailing the geese’s feet to for the necessary fattening process.
The French are of course not at all disappointed at losing the chance to host the games, they knew all along that Paris would be the poorer culturally for it. They went along with their President’s wily scheme because he told them that the fix was already in – Britain would win and bankrupt itself in the hosting, leaving the way open for a takeover by the Euro and the overdue sight of Tony Blair being trundled to the gallows in an open cart.
I myself will not be in London for the Games. I hear one will be able to rent a town house such as mine for anything up to three thousand pounds a week. I shall hide the good silver, replace my antiques with IKEA sofas and chairs for my guests to rest their foreign bottoms on and retire to France to laugh at it all from a safe distance. At least I shall be able to get into a restaurant whenever I want and with careful use of the TV I may be able to avoid seeing 'Lord' Coe at all. That, I think, will worthy of a gold medal in itself.
Illustration by: Al Stuart email@example.com