There are three types of sword used in the sport of fencing. They are the foil, épée and sabre. My readers will probably suspect that I have not done a lot of fencing. However, I am very well acquainted with the noble art of parry and riposte since I used to be the bus driver for a famous public school. One of my missions used to be driving the fencing team around to equally famous public schools so that the young gentlemen could duel with each other.
Now, as you will know comrades, my sympathies and background are somewhat proletarian. The accents and demeanour of the young blades and their masters seemed almost from a different planet. They exuded wealthy effortless self confidence and played esoteric japes in Latin with their peers and instructors. I always felt I should have disliked them. In reality they behaved towards me as absolute gentlemen and when food was served they ensured that I was treated equally. When packed lunches were provided, I received exactly the same. When they got off the bus they cleared every item of litter and thanked me for my service. Every time I got home I had to go to my secret naughty drawer and fondle my copy of the communist manifesto just to relieve the tension.
|Plus ça change|
And the point of all this is to announce the arrival of the new Olympic sport of sabre rattling. As the London 2012 games approach on the anti aircraft radar, our News bulletins are filled with accounts of battleships, snipers, commandos, missiles, and socket repelled grenades. In the air helicopters, Euro fighters, Tornado attack jets and AWACs planes will circle and hover over the city. Soldiers in masks practice kidnap and hi jack operations on riverboats. Thousands of extra security staff are being recruited and trained to say “No!” Oooh – it’s come a long way from a few sexy Greek boys doing a bit of running and hurling their shafts. I know all this stuff is necessary but it does bring home to me the actual nature of the world we live in. Like everyone I will be watching our pure boys and girls attempting to defeat the drug fuelled ugly foreigners. Luckily I will be in France and their cameras are programmed to ignore all competitors other than their own. Even the 100 metres is a solo event. We Brits are not like that of course. Please please let us get through the coming ordeal with nothing more than a few dreams, prides and records being broken.
When I wrote “Knockout”, the Olympics were just a TV news item showing a lot of cheering important British folk with glasses of champagne and lots of glum looking foreign important people. It was at that moment that I decided to write an account of the darker aspect of sport and corrupt gambling. I called an old friend at Scotland Yard and asked for some inside info. He asked me if I was free for dinner and what I was doing afterwards. I tried to work on an objective account of serious international crime but in the end everything got kinda mixed up with love and sex. It was much the same story when I came to write the book.
Emma thinx: Is there a gold medal for Nationalism?
Once upon a time I lived in Colorado and was among those who voted against hosting the Olympics. The world was aghast! The truth is that we saw the writing on the wall – Montreal's walls to be exact. It spelled “Bankruptcy.” Why then would our civic leaders work so hard to attract such a money-losing proposition? Why to rub elbows with the elite, of course! To attend cocktail parties with kings and queens, princes and princesses. To hobnob with the rich and famous, while the taxpayers footed the bill.
Never mind that there had never been adequate snow on the slopes slated as venues for the alpine events. Forget the fact that we would have to pony up millions to build new arenas and stadiums to the liking of the International Olympic Committee.
Well, we sent the pristine bums packing and I was proud of it (as were most of my fellow citizens).
Of course, times have changed and Los Angeles under the leadership of Peter U. showed everybody that the Olympics could be profitable. I believe that committee still has millions in its coffers that they use to fund good causes.
But, now there are terrorist threats to contend with, and the Olympics are forever a lightning rod for the crazies of the world.
You have my sympathies.
I can't say that I'm full of patriotic fervour over the Olympics and I think it is a mixture of the influence of sponsorship and drugs and the fact that I'm hyped out already! No one wants a repeat on any level of the Munich Games when a number of Israelis died at the hands of a neo nazi group but I think Jack's comment is very pertinent. When all the athletes have gone we are going to be left with a huge debt and a number of 'white elephants' rather like the 'Millenium Dome'!