For the past six weeks in Britain we have lived in an ‘Isle of Wonders’. Everyone agrees. Except, of course, for that Conservative MP who slagged off ‘Sir’ Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony. And the bosses of G4S who, in a recession let us not forget, couldn’t recruit enough staff to do the security at London 2012. A fact made even more laughable when you remember that seventy thousand people volunteered to help for free, and turned up on time, and smiling, despite ten hour shifts and the worst uniform seen in this country since Liverpool strode out at that Wembley cup final yonks ago dressed as ice-creams.
The words piss-up and brewery, and the difficulty of getting the two to coincide, naturally come to mind. But, for me, the whole security farrago does present an outstanding legacy opportunity for the good people of London. It comes in the form of an addition to the lexicon of Cockney Rhyming Slang. So please try and use the following whenever it is appropriate, both at work, and in your private life:
G4S – Complete ******* Mess
As well as a few losers, the games of The-Twenty-Whatever-It-Was-Olympiad have thrown up a lot of winners. People that we, the great British public, have taken to our heart. And, given the chance, would like to take to the pub. Apart from Mo Farah who probably doesn’t drink on account of his Muslim faith. Or maybe he could have a lemonade and a packet of crisps?
Obviously Mo is high up on the list, as are Jessica, Bradley, Bradley’s sideburns, and that bloke who won the long jump. While the Paralympics gave us Ellie, Sarah, The Weirwolf and the magnificently named Jonnie Peacock. In fact, so good is Jonnie Peacock’s name that, when you sit down and think about it, you realise it’s the name David Beckham should have had. Now I’m not saying that Jonnie Peacock, in branding terms, is ever going to be as big as Beckham but David, mate, when those sponsorship deals are coming up for renewal you better start looking over your shoulder because The Peacock Has Landed, and he moves pretty damned fast.
However the big winner from London 2012 is Clare Balding. She played an absolute blinder. At this moment if she were to run for election, with Seb as her Chancellor, she would get in by a landslide and the nation would suddenly find itself able go to bed at night knowing that everything was going to be alright because Clare and Seb are in charge.
Over the course of the Olympics she turned from being that woman holding a mike on a race track while horses walked behind her, into the David Attenborough of sport. She was knowledgeable and enthusiastic about whichever sport she was considering and, most importantly of all, she was able to communicate that knowledge and enthusiasm with a lightness of touch that made it a joy to watch. Beside her Gary Lineker looked a bit like an empty crisp packet caught up in a sudden gust of wind.
However at the last moment she let it all slip. It was a fall from grace as unexpected, and as unwelcome, as Oscar Pistorious throwing his toys out of the pram when he got beaten by the young Brazilian Alan Oliveira. Oscar’s complaint, if you remember, came down to the fact that HE was The Blade Runner, but the Brazilian had cheated by being Bladier, and consequently Runnier, than he was.
Clare’s words, whilst not as whingey as Oscar’s, were something probably even worse. They were profoundey. They came at the very end of Channel Four’s coverage of the Paralympic Games Closing Ceremony. The only reason I can come up with for Clare’s moment of shame is that she had just watched a lot of songs from Coldplay. And Coldplay did play a lot of songs. A lot of Coldplay songs. My theory for the length of their set is that the band saw all the flags, and the fires, and the Mad Max vehicles representing The Spirit Of The Something Or Other, got confused and thought they were at Glastonbury.
Anyway, much as I like Coldplay, their songs can leave listeners feeling a bit profoundey. And that’s the only reason I can think why Clare Balding, the newly installed queen of British broadcasting, ended her 2012 Paralympic Closing Ceremony coverage with a brief set of words that included the phrase ‘...this isn’t the end, this is just the beginning…’
Oh Clare, why did you have to go and spoil everything?
You sounded like an X-Factor contestant who gets knocked out early, and through the tears assures the public that ‘…this isn’t the end for me, this is just the beginning, you haven’t heard the last of insert name here.‘
Clare, it was the end, that’s why they had the Closing Ceremony. I mean, come on Clare, just think back to all those other Olympics you’ve seen, they always have the Closing Ceremony at the end. It’s by far the best place to have it. To highlight just how ludicrous it is to maintain that the Closing Ceremony isn’t the end, just imagine how it would have sounded had you suggested all those weeks ago that the Opening Ceremony wasn’t the start, but the finish.
You’re far, far better than spouting such nonsense. But Clare, those poorly chosen words mean that broadcasting-wise you do need to redeem yourself. You need to do something that will make the public re-focus on what a marvel you are. Just like Pistorious did by smashing that last race in the Olympic Stadium before Coldplay moved in.
Luckily there is one sporting challenge that exists that few people alive today believe will ever be conquered. But I know you’re the woman to do it. And once you do you will have gained the undying gratitude of a section of the populous who you may well have thought were beyond your charms.
All you have to do is replace Hansen on Match Of The Day. Short of England actually winning the World Cup it’s probably the greatest thing that could happen for the football fans of this country.
Please say you’ll try.