Sunday, 8 July 2012

Relight my fire

Today was a special day for my hometown. The Olympics came to town. It was our turn for the torch relay to parade through the streets. 

Personally I was not that enthusiastic about seeing some local person (although I am sure well deserved) running through the streets on a rainy July day carrying a flame in one of many golden torches. I did realise that I was in the minority and that my own family and many of my friends did not share my view. So slightly reluctantly I joined friends and family in town to join the throng awaiting the burning torch.

 

I have to admit that the town was buzzing, full of people, food outlets and stalls selling goods of all kinds. After looking around these and buying a delicious Italian sausage hot dog we made our way to the route to get front row positions.

 

We were there in plenty of time, finding a good spot which would provide a great viewing opportunity. Then came the inevitable souvenir sellers. Medals, flags, blow up torches (air not included) were on sale. We managed not to succumb to their wares and instead accepted some free flags and balloons being handed out by local companies.

 

The spectator numbers soon filled out and it became evident that this torch relay had grabbed the attention of the population.


The sponsor buses arrived first with fizzy drinks bottles being handed to the crowd and flags from an electronics company. Then a bus containing spare torches and I presume the other torch bearers. Just at that point the wind came up and spots of rain started to fall.

Then, down the road, proceeded by police motorbikes and flanked by out-runners the runner appeared, gleaming with pride, carrying the torch aloft; the flame defying the wind and the threatened rain shower. The crowd clapped, cheered, stood in the road and jostled each other for the best photo. Then she was past.

The rain started to fall a bit more heavily and the crowd disappeared back into the shops and it was over.

Walking back to the car park I saw many friends and acquaintances and I have to admit that the spirit of the Olympics had made it to my hometown. The Olympics are not just about superhuman people doing superhuman things. They are about the world coming together to focus on one thing, putting its problems and politics to aside, just for a few weeks. On a smaller scale that happened today.

Maybe I should stop being so bah humbug?

1 comment:

  1. Good work on the Bah Humbug. The torch came to our hometown the other day and the sponsorship that came with it was sickening. It seemed like the masses of the town was suddenly overtaken with an irresistible urge to grab a Samsung blue inflatable whatever-that-was - or to get a small bottle of Coca-Cola. The torch-bearer wasn't even from our town, and was shipped in from a place 35 miles away...

    "putting problems and politics aside" - I think it is completely the opposite actually, Ed, and the cynical corporate greed on display just made me feel really ill. But I guess what made it worse was the fact that people were falling for it - like some kind of Roman Emperor putting on a display for the Mob. Lloyds TSB reputedly spent £80m simply for the rights to be the official banking partner (never mind the costs of all of the advertising, opening ceremony, tickets, boxes for shareholders etc.) - but as far as I remember the UK taxpayer bailed them out for £37bn and became a major shareholder... so are we paying twice for the Olympics? Once for Games themselves and then again for the corporate crap that they give out and all of the 'entertaining' they do during the run-up to and the Games themselves.

    An exclusion zone exists around the Olympic venues themselves (http://newsfeed.kosmograd.com/kosmograd/2012/05/olympics-brand-exclusion-zone.html) in which you are not allowed to wear any clothing that has a brand on it other than the official sponsors, and you are not allowed to eat any other snack or beverage that is not a McDonalds!? Effectively the major brands who can afford it are paying the government (and the police force, army etc.) to enforce the denial of people's basic human rights about what they can wear and eat. I'm not even getting into the missile bases on the rooves of people homes!

    It is certainly not about putting politics and problems aside - it is about state-supported acceptance of the power of corporations to control our lives. Never mind the fact that people are not even going to be able to use the words '2012, Twenty-Twelve or Two Thousand and Twelve' or post anything from the Games on youTube or even Facebook without facing possible investigation (http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2012/apr/13/olympics-2012-branding-police-sponsors?INTCMP=SRCH). It is ALL about politics and it is all about the British People rolling over and letting this happen because everyone loves a free Coca-Cola. A sad day for state of the world.

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