Going For Gold

Heavy Sabre

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
Olympic Torch
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?

Far From The Crowding Mads

I took the train to London. Ooh – I never knew there were so many people in the world and that most of them would be in Leicester Squash. Yes, yes I know it should be Square. Apparently they are improving London ready for the GAMES. What games do you say? Yes, the Olympics. I must confess to feeling that it’s actually a lot of fit young folk running about and playing games. Tribal warfare with feral mobs of grasping lawyers has already broken out over the ownership of the Olympic stadium after the event. Anyway, they are pimping up Leicester Squash. Entering or leaving from the Charing Cross Road means battling with thousands of one’s comrades through a small gap created by building site mesh barriers. Any faller would be trampled. Last night a rampant gang of spidermen dress-alikes surged and jumped through the shuffling throng. A comatose young female in Father Christmas garb was dragged along by merry reindeer mates. Ho hum – I’m getting old and longing for Charentes-Maritime. My business plan in this world of austerity is for the inflatable Olympics. The same stadia and palaces of pugilism could be traipsed around the globe and inflated in the winning city like a travelling fair or circus. And we could have all manner of be-knighted bigwigs blabbering about drug scandals in the bouncy castle event. OR – we could have the games permanently in some unlikely place that needs a cash generating theme park like….um…. GREECE.

I went to London in full bourgeois pursuit of ART. There is a fabulous exhibition of paintings by Degas at the Royal Academy of Art in Piccadilly. It focuses on his paintings of dancers and takes in that period when the whole notion of motion was a lotion flotion in the air. Photograph, film and the science of movement were combining to fix and define the relationship between Action and Time. Ooh – when I try, I can sound right posh don’t you think?

I feel a bit mean for writing about Degas because he guarded his privacy very seriously. He thought the worst possible fate to befall a man was to be written about by writers. Well, that’s all right then – I don’t think I count. Regular readers will know that I once had a temp job in the ART world and developed a taste for the old brush strokes. Some exhibitions can be promoted with lofty themes and in reality have a cobbled up content. Not so this one! It is the biz with a buzz.

There is a modern term used in comedy these days of “projectile vomiting”. I had always dismissed it as hyperbole although laughed to see it in” Little Britain”clips. Last night Gilles and I dined at a famous Chinese restaurant in Wardour Street Soho named “Wong Kei” (Affectionately known as Wonkies). This restaurant is known as being good value but with staff at best brusque, but probably often just rude. The food is kinda slammed down in front of you and plates are snatched away before you have finished. Last night Gilles was left in mid munch when his plate of hors d’oeuvres was grabbed from the table. To a Frenchman this kind of thing is incredible. In seconds the next course was slam dunked in front of us. As I began the Chicken in black bean sauce young man of about 8 years old stopped alongside my table. He turned his green face towards our table and clutched his hand to his face as he convulsed in pre vomit apoplexy. Suddenly he let go. A stream of hot pre-owned sweet and sour pork noodles splattered into my rice and onto my arm. Gilles, who had not been impressed so far, shrugged and asked cynically if this was the cabaret. The child appeared happier and stood smiling in front of me. Waiters arrived throwing green tea and bleach on the floor. The child wandered back to his oblivious family who were occupied with a second screeching child who was throwing some kind of tantrum and charging around the salon. Still green, the lad resumed his meal. I was delighted. I hate to see food wasted.

The sting of bleach  in my eyes and the splash of vomit had cooled my appetite. We paid and left. You know, this is the land of plenty. Sometimes it is just too much.

Emma thinx: When you think you’ve had enough, you’ve already had too much.