Olympics in a nutshell

OK, so I realise the blog-writing has been put on hold for quite a while now, and for that I apologise. I’m only going to say this once, and I really, really mean it: I was enjoying my summer. Please don’t make the mistake of taking that as an excuse – having fun is good. Everyone should do it from time to time, you know, to keep things balanced.

So if you are also trying to survive in the Olympics-clad London, but like me have been too frustrated and British to succumb to watching the games, here’s a short recap of events so far for your entertainment. I’ll try and keep it as neutral as possible, because I know sometimes my rants get a bit much for the light-hearted, penis over heels in love with the current government prudes. Over the duration of the festivities and the Games themselves, certain news stories have grasped the attention of millions much more than others:

The Opening Ceremony: “The quirky Olympic opening ceremony was a wild jumble of the celebratory and the fanciful; the conventional and the eccentric; and the frankly off-the-wall, Britain presented itself to the world as something it has often struggled to express even to itself: a nation secure in its own post-empire identity, whatever that actually is. It was neither a nostalgic sweep through the past nor a bold vision of a brave new future. Rather, it was a sometimes slightly insane portrait of a country that has changed almost beyond measure since the last time it hosted the Games, in the grim post-war summer of 1948.”

Danny Boyle, the acclaimed director of Oscar-winning projects Slumdog Millionaire and Trainspotting, presided to introduce the ceremony and to bestow warm wishes onto the audience, both physical and virtual. The three hour extravaganza, complete with live musical performances by Sir Paul McCartney, British rap singer Dizzee Rascal and indie band, Arctic Monkeys, a sequenced dance number performed by nurses and patients of the Great Ormond Street Hospital, and an artistic disarray of farmland animals has truly been branded as ‘one of a kind’. By far the most favourite segment of all was the mini montage of the Queen depicted as a Bond Girl, and dropped into the stadium via helicopter in the arms of Daniel Craig. The top paragraph is a direct quote from a newspaper I came across recently (honestly cannot remember which one – recently they’ve all been one and the same in terms of content. Daily Mail aside of course). I personally thought the ceremony turned out a little…crappy. Having watched the rehearsal a couple of days beforehand, I hoped that on the day of the actual ceremony Danny Boyle would climb on stage with balloons and (hopefully) a confetti cannon and shout “KIDDING!” at the shocked audience. China must be antsy with glee at this point, because comparing our ceremony to the Beijing 2008 actually brings tears to my eyes.

PROS: Queen a la Bond Girl under Daniel Craig’s arm, Arctic Monkeys doing a cover of “Come Together” with swanky angel/cyclist mofos driving around them with lit up wings, the literary references throughout the ceremony (Alice in Wonderland, Mary Poppins, Harry Potter etc.)

CONS: Cattle randomly scattered on an Amish faux-farmland plot centre stage, Paul McCartney and his wrinkled turtle neck (like syphilis on a navy boat, this guy is all over that shizz, all the time. Royal wedding – check. Diamond Jubilee – check. Olympics Opening ceremony – check. Dude really needs a hobby), hyperactive children on trampolines, and of course dozens of teens depicting the ‘true British experience’ – trying to get laid on a Friday night, or as the classy birds and lads call it – ‘out on the lash’. I don’t blame the foreigners for being confused to be honest.

Making History, and making Comedy: The 30th Olympiad seems to be a time for many firsts: the first time all national teams competing will include female athletes, the first time an amputee sprinter will compete in the games (Oscar Pistorius, a sprinter for South Africa, got as far as the 400m semi-finals), and the first time local politicians face difficulty in cheering of their national teams. In an attempt celebrate Team GB’s first gold medal win, London’s mayor Boris Johnson got stuck on a zip wire atop of the green in Victoria Park, east London earlier last week. The mayor was fixed in mid-air for several minutes, holding onto two Union Jack flags and waving to the crowds beneath him, making the best out of a bad situation. Moron.

The ticket sales faux pas: The ticket purchasing system, designed to specifically give ticket preference to tourists of particular nationality – with tickets ranging in price dependent on which nation the purchaser is a citizen of, has been branded doomed from the start. Both the IOC and the LOCOG have received numerous complaints about both the difficulty of even obtaining tickets, and their cost. In an attempt to distinguish the visible humiliation, security staff and volunteers are filling the empty seats at the competitions, whilst 2.5 million people are still trying to purchase tickets for the various events. The blocks of empty seating are also a reminder of the privileges available for the rich and powerful at these Games. A quarter of all places are reserved for VIPs as well as the media and athletes, but even at sought-after finals, many of the reserved spots have remained unused.

Gazing into the future: Much like her fortunetelling predecessor, Octopus Paul, Russian racoon Jemma, has predicted that China will win the Olympics, and ambitiously claims that Russia is to take second place. So far, Tula’s born and bred, has correctly predicted the winner of Euro 2012, but time will show whether her career is to progress any further.

Despite the sarcastic voiceover in the video, may I just point out that on the total medal count, Russia is currently THIRD and not sixth like it says on all the British results pages. This slight oversight was pointed out to me by my friend from the States, where results are viewed by total number of medals won, and hence by the total number of points earned. So THERE, Russia may actually come second after all. (Rest assured, my assertion relies on my love for fluffy animals with small paws, not on any patriotic, nationalist agenda).
Enjoy the empty streets of central London, folks. And for the love of all things great and Ryan Gosling, please don’t wonder down into Stratford – it’s full of tourists and eager beaver volunteers round every corner, trying to appear helpful. In reality, given that it’s East London, and most of them are in their teens, they just look like dressed up muggers.

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