diamond geezer

 Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ten things boosted by the Games

1) Volunteering: They got a louder cheer than the athletes, the Games Makers. That's clearly the wrong way round, in terms of effort expended over length of time. But I suspect we Britons recognised that these volunteers had committed to something we'd not have done ourselves, and stuck to it, and delivered. Every single one with a smile, most with astonishing good humour - the people we'd like to aspire to be. Expect the Government to leap on this unbridled success and nudges us back towards their Big Society agenda. But it's yet to be proven whether enlisting to save a local library or youth service can ever match the magnetic draw of the Games.
2) Attitudes to disability: We've always known we ought to treat the disabled equally, but for some it's taken the Paralympics to prove it. We've seen that impairment needn't hold you back, and that anything's possible on the right level playing field. We now have nationwide role models respected on an equal footing to their able counterparts, perhaps even more so this week, and every possibility of an irreversible change in national perception. I hope we're mature enough to recognise that not everyone with a disability is superhuman, nor indeed (are you listening Atos?) fit enough for work. But if Britain learns to focus on the positive, not the impairment, these Games will have been an astonishing success.
3) Patriotism: Blimey. If you wanted to hype up spectators at these Games, all you had to say was "Team GB". Games Makers shepherding queues knew this. Commentators at event sessions knew this. A palpable sense of national pride was always evident, especially at the Paralympics. Grans in red, white and blue headscarves, mums with flags, kids facepainted with Union Jacks... they'd cheer anyone on the GB team even if they had no hope whatsoever of succeeding. It's not often an event comes along that so grasps our innate national faith, and it's not certain something quite so cross-generational ever will again. But the message is clear - stick the right flag on it, and we'll support anything.
4) The Armed Forces: Ditto Our Lads - there's also been collective love for them. Drafted in because G4S were initially so incompetent, it soon became commonplace (even comforting) to see the Armed Forces on duty. Even when they slipped into those otherwise empty front seats we didn't complain, we deferentially cheered. And some of us have got so good at passing through airport-style scanner checks this summer that I fear we've been fully softened up should martial law ever be imposed.
5) Security: We feared it, but it never happened... an unexploded package, an unexpected outrage, some unspeakable terrorist event. Maybe none was ever scheduled and all that money spent on prevention and rooftop missiles was utterly wasted. Or maybe gangs of evil schemers really did plan to sneak into the Olympic Park with volatile liquids concealed in water bottles and combine them in secret to create a makeshift explosive and kill us all. The only people who know for sure will never tell, but don't expect the perceived risk to ever go away.
6) Public funding: A lot of private companies have been involved in organising the Games, most very successfully, a handful not. But the Games would never have happened without a large whack of taxpayers' money (or they'd have become a shabby pastiche devoted to flogging 'stuff'). I'd like to argue that over-staffing has been one of the most important contributory factors to a successful summer. Wherever you looked there were six volunteers where there could have been two, or three security guards for the price of one. Britain can't always afford such excess but, when an immaculate job needs doing, only public money can bypass the profit motive and concentrate on service.
7) London Transport: There were long queues at a few stations at some times, and traffic on Bow Road was definitely cloggier than usual. But the expected transport chaos never materialised, not in any significant manner, despite the IOC's major misgivings way back during the bid stage. The tubes flowed, the buses rolled, and those Games Lanes didn't choke the capital in the way Londoners had feared. Don't underestimate the years of transport planning that went into making all this possible, right down to the optimal positioning of the five thousandth magenta sign. And we too played our part, as we adjusted our commutes in sufficient numbers to make space for everyone else. London's transport network ends the Games enhanced, and few would have predicted that.
8) Boris: Mr Johnson's had a good Games, hasn't he? A grinning face on a global stage, a jovial word for every occasion, even a fortuitous zipwire dangle. That's the joy of having a predecessor with vision, and a large team behind you in whose reflection you can bask. That's also his nationwide profile significantly lifted. I always suspect Boris would rather be President than PM, because that's less effort, but the latter's maybe rather closer after 2012.
9) Sports that aren't football: So it turns out there are other sports we enjoy watching, something other than the Premiership, who knew? Sports in which the players aren't paid a fortune, and sports in which talent and training count for more than bling and hype. It's hard to know whether there's an all-year audience for dressage, wheelchair rugby or handball - one suspects not. But if only the BBC were still broadcasting Grandstand, we'd have a much better chance of finding out.
10) London: Whatever the world thought of us before, whatever jam-infested joyless bunch of bankers they had us down for, that global perception's changed. We're fun, we're emotional, we're creative, we're damned well organised... and above all, we deliver. And that might just be worth the £9bn pricetag, you never know.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan17  Feb17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream

What's on this month?
28 Jan – 23 Apr (10am-4.30pm)
Sussex Modernism
The sixth annual exhibition at Two Temple Place focuses on radical art/writing in Sussex, and is damned excellent.

twenty blogs
ian visits
blue witch
city metric
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
london museums
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
The DG Tour of Britain
Comment Value Hierarchy

read the archive
Feb17  Jan17
Dec16 Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

the diamond geezer index
2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
capital ring
river fleet

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards