I have spurned the opportunity to take part in the London Olympics. Not on purpose, but then again, yes, on purpose; though perhaps not by design but more through default. It has seemed forever that the slow red London bus that travelled embarrassingly to China from the UK with fat ol Boris, school swot Beckham and who the hell/what the hell was Jimmy Page doing there? We have, since that point, been inundated with programmes and initiatives, local authority projects and government drives to increase our awareness of cultural diversity, of nutrition and fitness, of opportunity and volunteerism and the countless, countless, countless, countdowns to the start of the London games. To be frank I am sick to the back teeth of the whole thing.
Personally, and perhaps as a result of the suffocating ‘joy’ that we should all be experiencing, the Tango taste of anticipation, I did not apply for Olympic venue tickets in either phase 1 or phase 2; I rejected tickets for the table tennis, and was unable to take advantage of the road-racing tickets available to me. I won’t be applying for any of the half-a-million remaining football tickets to watch Mickey Mouse FC take on Donald Duck United (half-baked ensembles of national football offering anyway when the proper thing is just 4 weeks away in our own league structures). I didn’t attend the Olympic torch run in either Hove or Lewes, and I will be in Denmark when t he opening ceremony floods our TV like a second showing of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee – all wet and cheap like cheese and pineapple cocktail sticks. And to date TV coverage has striven to dent my small appetite too. Drug-cheating exposés, ‘what has the Olympics done for you’ type affairs, ‘100 Greatest Olympic Moments’ formats; last night’s offering by that nob of Radio 5 (ok, that could be a number of people but this is the guy that does the 2 o’clock shift) and the ‘nearly man’ Colin Jackson was particularly galling.
But I have been touched a little. I did want to watch Bettsie bear his torch in Hove , I had to make a grown-up parental decision to not stand in the rain with my 2 year old; I might yet be offered mountain-biking tickets in Essex, and I have taken two weeks off work to be home to watch bits of it – albeit that most of the time I will up the scaffolding outside my house with a paint brush in me mitt. Colin Murray has presented a compelling radio series whereby he tracks down every living British gold-medallist and last night I watched a programme about cyclist Vicky Pendleton that made me love sport all over again, care about its outcomes, and value the enormity of personal endeavour and commitment that these guys, if you take away the champagne and glitz, put in. I shall, now, buy some glue for my sofa on my way home tonight – apply some to the cushion, some to my arse, wrestle the TV controls and almost certain 24/7 Kardashian crap that my wife watches to my end of the sofa – turn on, tune in, drop out and marvel at the Olympian effort that will make up the games. Even if it means enduring Sue Barker’s pinched smile for the duration. Come on!