The Judge RANTS!
Kissing The Rings
I want to be one of the first to say, "Sod the London Olympics!".
To do so is, of course, to lay myself open to accusations of
killjoyhood and spoilsportism, emanating either from those whose
intellectual horizons spread no further than the nearest tabloid
headline or TV hype-fest; or from those who have a vested interest (be
it political or financial) in this Triumph Of The Shill.
I don't care. I've already found myself, in the nine hours between
the news from Singapore and sitting down to type this, having to bite
my tongue, faced as I have been with the cooings and jubilations of
those who are easily taken in.
For who, exactly, will benefit from all this?
Oh, says the Blair régime, this is a great chance for the
reinvigoration of the East End of London. Yes! Let's move all those poor
people out of the communities they've grown up in, scatter them to the
four corners of Greater London or even beyond and pull down their homes
with the assurance (nothing on paper, mind) that, once the athletes
have all gone home, they will be able to move in to brand-new,
all up-to-date accomodation!
Except, of course, that once the Olympic Village is vacated by its
intended guests, some high-sounding reason ('Financial prudence'
for example, or "It would be irresponsible of us not to try to
recoup our investment") will be found to hand all this
infrastructure over to property speculators with close (but largely
unprovable) links to the government of the day, who will then sell the
apartments off for ludicrous amounts of money to members of the Smart
Set who have more money than sense. The 'natives' of the East End will never
go home again, and the social cleansing of yet another part of London
will be accomplished.
Property prices have already started to rise after the
announcement, pricing more and more people out of homes near their
places of work, thus forcing more of them to commute ever-longer
distances, causing ever-worsening pollution. Perhaps we may see a new
event in subsequent Olympiads: the 50 metre asthmatic hack? Although
the competitors would all be disqualified because their nebulisers
would contained banned substances.
And while we're on the subject of transport, how is a city (and a
country) which has perhaps the worst-developed and worst-resourced
public transport system in the developed world going to cope? Perhaps a
variant on the bus lane principle; except that, in this case, the
cordoned-off lanes and specially-favourable traffic signals will be
reserved for the nobs of the IOC, their corporate owners and possibly
even the athletes.
What financial benefit will there be for those who are not within
that forever-charmed circle which surrounds Greater London, or who do
not have property or businesses in convenient locations? Studies of
past Games have suggested very strongly that the supposed benefits are
nothing like as substantial as they are made out to be in advance
(unless you're within the Circle, natch). Nonetheless, it is inevitable
that our taxes, already misdirected from what we need to what the
élite want, will be used to prop the whole enterprise up.
For propping up will be required, make no mistake: the Greek
government all but bankrupted the country to host the last Games;
Montréal is still paying off its debts nearly thirty
years later. Don't ask the corporate 'sponsors', the Nikes, Cokes (as
in 'Cola', rather than Colombian Marching Powder, although...) and
Microsofts, to pay: they will take their moment in the light, take the
cash, and take off.
So it'll be left to the general Mugginses to fund the shortfall,
both beforehand and for years afterwards. After all, this is a prestigious
project, and cannot be allowed to fail, even if it means putting
the entire population in hock for a generation or more. Yes! So what if
our schools are in crumbling buildings? Who cares if people have to
wait eighteen months for an MRI scan on their fractured skull? This is important,
fergawdsake! We simply mustn't pass up the chance of showing
the world how tacky we can be, darlings!
And, heaven forbid that anyone should protest against all this. The
coming of this Festival Of Twisted Priorities will no doubt be used as
yet another excuse for the current régime's determination to bar-code
the entire population of the UK ("We must have a Safe Olympics!").
In any case, as we have seen in Scotland in the last few days, police
will be encouraged to break heads, certain in the knowledge that the
corporate media (themselves slavering at the possibilities involved in
being able to plaster 'sport' on every page, not just the
front) will report on what a wonderful job the Brave Boys In Blue are
doing to keep us safe from dangerous anarchists and extremists.
The letters and opinion columns are already filling up with the
saccharine exudations of those who are naturally delighted with
the outcome, especially as it allows the True Brit to take a break from
his customary occupations of whining, whinging and mingeing and indulge
once more in the national sport: celebrating the Shafting Of The French.
And all this as a result of a decision taken, after the usual
procedure of cajolery, politicking and outright bribery, by an
organisation which, as the American writer Dave Zirin
has aptly said, has contained so many ex-fascists that a photograph of
its meetings would look like an out-take from footage of the
In case you're still not sure, ask yourself this: if you had to
choose, where would you have preferred to have been in the summer of
2012? Paris? Or Walthamstow?