Wednesday 08 February 2012

I deal

I can’t stopped being annoyed at the expense of the opening ceremony of the Olympics. Last count it was accounting for a third of the £81 million allotted to cover the cost of the opening and closing ceremonies for both the Olympics and paralympics.

Did you ever watch an opening ceremony of anything for its entirety? I think I probably have because I am a loser. The fact that I almost certainly have but cannot remember if I have tells its own story. A very dull story. It’s unlikely to be adapted for screen. Cut to: “And the Oscars for 2019 were a clean sweep for Can’t Remember Opening Ceremonies starring Tom Hanks as Philip Bridgehouse.”

The one thing I can remember from an opening ceremony? Yes, Diana Ross’s penalty kick at the 1994 World Cup in America. Can we not just have British versions of this? We could have down on their luck pop stars of the 90s doing shit sport things badly. Or the stars of Eastenders recreating classic Olympic moments. Or something that doesn’t cost £40 million.

I love Danny Boyle. I love his films. He seems like a great guy. But I am telling you this now, if I was to get a load of talented 12-18 year old artists, dancers and performers and put on an hour show with them AND had a limited budget for cotton, coloured paper and three or four trained sewing machinists and a few specialist choreograpghers doing it for the love of it, then you would not look at the show compared to Boyle’s and think ‘they are £39.9 million apart’. Even better if you remove me completely and it is all just teachers and pupils from schools and colleges.

Apparently the opening ceremony is “once-in-a-generation opportunity to showcase the very best of our country to four billion people around the world and have a potential advertising value of £2-5 billion”. Is it? If so we are doing incredibly well to get 2-5 billion of advertising for only £40 million. Well done us. Ever so spiffing that the NHS is being involved too, so people watching from Texas to Bejing know that we had a national health service that we are slowly killing. How is this once in a generation? It’s bullshit that’s what it is. Well organised events with good public transport and a friendly environment: that’s what people want from a large sporting event, not a version of the fucking Tempest. I am slap-bang in favour of the arts, this is not a problem with the arts. I would love that £40 million to to the Arts Council and be invested in arts projects for Britain – rather than showing off to the rest of the world.

It’s a misnomer that this will mean anything. I’ve read studies about how hosting major sporting events doesn’t represent the massive boost to the economy people make out that it does. Don’t get me wrong – there is a shit load of money been spent on tickets and will be spent on other things, but the economists I read were quite sure that the money would just have been spent elsewhere and returned to the economy anyway. Do you remember all the people going to Atlanta after they had the Olympics?

Opening ceremonies have to be explained. Things that need someone to explain every last minute or not working as a human endeavour. And every opening ceremony I have ever seen has been accompanied by Barry Davies telling me what the people in the white tunics represent and why the 90 people on stilts are bowing to an 60-foot orange. Opening ceremonies are just people spinning on a field in rough unison. FORTY MILLION POUNDS.

I don’t want to come across all anti-Olympics. I think it IS great that the biggest athletics tournament in the world is coming to Britain. I really hope to get to some events and will watch much of it on TV. I just want the majority of the money spent to stay in communities and in sporting infrastructures that will benefit the people of the country and not to literally go up in smoke with big fireworks and special effects at silly ceremonies.

I am telling you – even if you ignore my 12-18 year olds idea with kids and teachers I could still guarantee a good ceremony. 500 cute 3-7 year olds with their parents all dressed in colours of the Olympic rings holding hands in circles spinning round while (at least three of the five) Spice Girls do Spice Up Your Life.


Isn’t it funny when Countdown on your iPhone starts pointing out what you should have been enjoying when you were at University?

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