With only two years to go until the Olympics, now is a great time to take your credit card for a spin in the London 2012 shop. Have you been yet? Come on, hurry up, there are only 723 shopping days to the Opening Ceremony.
You'll find the London 2012 shop on the lower concourse at St Pancras International station. It's right next to the Eurostar ticket office, so it's ideally situated for any passing tourist with leftover euros to spend, or any East Midlander heading home. There are three arches-worth of London 2012 goodies, packed with items to suit all budgets. I was tempted inside, no trouble. But as a hopeless consumer who has real difficulty buying anything, would they be able to wheedle any money out of me at all?
Clothes. That's what the bulk of the London 2012 shop is given over to. T-shirts with the logo on, trackies with the logo on, hoodies with the logo on. And Adidas leggings with the logo on, baseball caps with the logo on, even polo shirts (not an Olympic sport, but hey) with the logo on. There's a wide choice of bright colours and styles, but they all have the logo on. And, like you, I'm not 100% convinced by the logo. More importantly, fashionwise, I don't fancy walking around town in something that still makes half the population subconsciously picture Lisa Simpson. Admittedly some of the clothing features more interesting alternativedesigns, where the logo is less dominant, and those products are rather more appealing. But no purchase from me, sorry.
One entire half-wall of the shop has been given over to pin badges. These are an important part of any Olympics (no really), and are much in demand from global collectors. They're all here, including such London classics as the field scabious, the punk safety pin and the set of teapots. Best of all, remember those one-per-borough pin badges I mentioned a while back, they're all here. Even the uncharismatic Barking and Dagenham pin badge, there are eight of those dangling from a hook in the vain hope that somebody somewhere (more likely Tokyo than Becontree) will want one. Hurry now, while stocks last. I bought none of those either.
But one thing in the shop genuinely annoyed me. A sign by the entrance, repeated by every cash till, and also plastered over a series of mouse mats on the shop counter. A sign that said "We are proud to accept only Visa". How selfish. I know that Visa are a long-standing supporter of the worldwide Olympic Movement. I know that the 2012 Games wouldn't be going ahead were it not for the vaultfuls of money piled into them by willing sponsors. And I wouldn't have minded if the sign had said "We are proud to accept Visa", wouldn't have minded at all. But that word "only" really rankled. You're a shop attempting to make a profit for heaven's sake, why would you be "proud" to restrict potential purchasers' range of acceptable payment methods? You call it pride, I call it supercilious financial chauvinism. Yes, I know London 2012 is forced to accept only Visa, because those are the Olympic house rules. But please, stop being so condescendingly smug about it.
Should you be tempted to visit the London 2012 shop, take Visa or take cash. Or for those of you nowhere near St Pancras, why not drop by the virtual shop instead. Great news, you don't have to use Visa there, because they also accept payment by (erm) cheque. All you have to do is follow these eight supposedly simple instructions from the financial Dark Ages, and wait a long time, and they'll send you whatever goodie from the shop you want. You might even spend more than me, which wouldn't be difficult, because I'm a rubbish consumer. And every penny goes towards keeping your tax bill down, so please give generously.