Friday, January 05, 2007

Shit Ahoy!

You will recall that I am a vehement opponent of the London Olympics, not least of all because my present home, on which my entire financial future is dependent, borders the site of unquestionably the greatest socio-economic fiasco of the new century. Imagine the Millennium Dome, Wembley Stadium, Crossrail, the Iraq war, Hurricane Katrina, the South East Asian tsunami and Pompeii; triple it and you may have some idea of what the prologue to a very long saga might look like.

I am wondering at this point exactly how many changes to the Olympic bid the doyens of this five-ringed circus at the IOC are willing to wear before they start wondering if maybe they should have given it to a country whose entry wasn’t delivered by a motorcycle courier on the back of his own fag packet. I have watched Tessa ‘The Jowl’ Jowell, fumble her way through ludicrous explanations of ‘the figures’ to the GLA committee several times recently as it is one of the BBC’s better ideas of a sick joke to air it continually on the Parliament Channel. Suffice to say that Celebrity Big Brother needs to be aware that there is competition.

But that fag packet it seems contained irresistible gems of originality like The FriendShip Project, a plan to launch a fine sea clipper that would circumnavigate the globe reminding everyone that Britain once led the world’s most comprehensive land grab. The Guardian reports today,

Of all the ideas that secured the 2012 Olympics for London, the scheme to sail an ocean-going clipper around the world, crewed by ‘young people, artists, philosophers and students’, seemed particularly novel. Beginning in Beijing after the 2008 games and ‘setting sail on a journey of hope’, it was described to the International Olympic Committee as a journey of discovery, carrying a cargo emblematic of the UK's cultural riches’.

Marvellous idea, obviously. This great nation of seafarers which produced Drake, Nelson, Chichester, Ellen McCarthy, Tony Bullimore and that prat out of Duran Duran who nearly drowned in the Fastnet race, would surely be able to manage to steer a fully equipped yacht around the world in four years. Even with climate change, that time frame had to be doable. There was even the prospect of recreating that so oft triumphant homeward journey up the Thames,

At voyage's end, it was said, the ship would make a ‘triumphant entrance up the river Thames’, formally proclaiming ‘the renaissance of east London’.

But organisers seem to have developed a bad case of cold cleat suddenly. Perhaps they were a little nervous at the prospect of our ‘cultural riches’ falling prey to high seas piracy. Last time I checked, Captain Jack Sparrow was still at large. Warning bells may also have sounded here, as those of us who live in East London and have gallantly withstood all previous attempts to ‘regenerate’ us over several decades are only too aware, that there are impressionable young people and government ministers who still believe that reversing social deprivation is possible without actually halting the corporate greed that keeps it afloat. Imagine their little hearts breaking as they sail up the Thames in 2012 to find that Tilbury and Gravesend are not only still there but have not been transformed into Disneyland London.

All that aside, provided the health and safety issues could be resolved, which would probably have involved an entire cabinet reshuffle but was just about achievable with a two year lead-in, it may have been possible for the good ship FriendShip to change a half a dozen young lives. They could have arranged for the children and philosophers to be below decks as the FriendShip made its way past unreconstructed Essex. Who would have been any the wiser? However, it now seems as if the idea’s as dry as a Glasgow dock. Mayor Livingstone explains in The Guardian,

‘The sentiment behind the original FriendShip proposal is still very much alive. The London Olympic Games Organising Committee are investigating how best to meet the stated aims of promoting friendship and intercultural exchange between young people.’ But he added: ‘This review includes considering whether a physical ship is the best way to meet these objectives.’

It is thought that one option would be to press ahead with plans for a ‘virtual vessel’, which would have ‘sailed’ the internet in parallel with the real ship, forming the basis of a four-year education programme linked to the national curriculum.

OK. So it was always meant to be more of a ‘concept’ than an actual boat with water around it docking in actual countries with people in them. I wonder if the IOC clocked that. The Health and Safety Executive can breathe a hefty sigh of relief and go back to working out the optimum height for work stations. ‘Sailing’ the internet is at least introducing a new sport, to be fair, and that’s a cause for celebration. It may even be something that we turn out to be good at. But will the IOC now be wondering if London is intending to hold a virtual Olympics rather than an actual physical one? I know I would be…

Gorgeous pirate from the lovely Wikipedia


clerk from kent said...

With our latest sound trouncing at the hands of your fellow countrymen I share your concerns. What are we doing so wrong?

That's so pants said...

I have my own theories and I will do a proper blog on them one day soon. I think the fundamental problem is that Britain expects reward for little effort. Other people just work harder. Physical activity is one area where reward equals effort expended. You can't just 'spin' your way to victory in a cricket match.

Al Shabaz said...

Jermaine has caused national controversy by openly praying his obligatory five time prayers live on national TV. However Channel Four the Broadcaster has censored any footage of the Former Jackson Five practicing his faith. Outraged muslims have begun to complain on grounds of fair representation as Shilpa Shetty was broadcast practicing Yoga, they are demanding an explanation from Channel four as to why Jermaine Praying has been censored. Complaints to Ofcom the body that adjudicates media complaints are set to flood in this monday. Jermaine has begun to attract many thousands of muslim votes.

That's so pants said...

I'm thinking this not so much a comment on this post but a blanket spam. Never mind. It's a very enterprising way to get your point across Al Shabaz and I applaud your effort. I have not caught up on CBB yet but I understand that Jade Goody has entered the house and is the boss of everything so I will be tuning in. I did not know about Jermaine so thanks for enlightening me. Ought to be interesting. I was not aware that yoga is a religion. Is kae kwondo one too?