The first series of Twenty Twelve………a comedy about the Olympic Games in London was excellent. The current series is even better. The English have an ability to laugh at themselves and glory in the fact that they tend to muddle thru.
The format of Twenty Twelve is a spoof fly-on-the-wall documentary …..voiced by David Tennant….following a fictional London Organising Committee. The excellent Hugh Bonneville plays the long suffering Head of the Organisation struggling with the media-speak and business-speak of his senior advisors. Legacy, Sustainability, Publicity, Security….all looked at with a satirical eye. The programme makers have had a lot of co-operation from the real life Olympic organisers……..”Lord” Seb Coe good naturedly allows himself to be sent up.
Yet looking at the latest episode….and the appearance of G4S Chief Executive at the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee………it is obvious that Life is now imitating Art. The organisation of these Games looks to be a complete shambles.
BBC seems to have a choice between Sport and News…..the Sports narrative seems to be that this is the greatest show on earth. The News is more nuanced………yes a great national occasion but increasingly the focus has to be on the downside.
London narrowly “won” the Games. Defeated Paris. And as the crowds celebrated…appropriately perhaps in Trafalgar Square, I got the impression that this was really all the English public needed. Defeating France. Of course that was on 6th July 2005…….and a lot of that euphoria disappeared within 24 hours when the London Underground was attacked and several people killed. It was then obvious that the Olympics would be a major security headache.
And within three years, the world economy had collapsed making vanity projects such as staging the Olympics an unwelcome expense. The greatest fiasco since Springfield built the monorail…….to spite Shebyville and Ogdenville.
Of course it is the nature of these things that costs spiral out of control…..and true to form the Olympic bill kept rising. My neice and her hubby live naer the equestrian venue in Greenwich and their lives are so disrupted that they are going off to see Mickey and Minnie Mouse in USA for the duration.
Anti-aircraft missiles are deployed on council block roofs in East London. Ticketing has been a fiasco. Taxi drivers block Westminster to protest about potential lost earnings because of “Olympic Lanes”. A man who earns £800,000 per year represents G4S before the House of Commons. His firm screwed up recruiting security staff at £8.50 per hour……not enough staff. The wage bill would have been £10million. The contract was worth £500 million. Go figure!.
The British Army, including many just home from Afghanistan …with a P45 in their kit bag……as the British down-size their forces……are re-deployed to fill the gaps left by the shortage of security staff. And Police (also with the threat of being downsized as their work is re-assigned to the private sector……G4S) are re-deployed also. Leave is cancelled.
Potential public disorder as it seems possible the rioters and looters from Summer 2011 will not miss an opportunity.
Public Pride could turn to Public Anger. Indeed Public Pride has been cynically used by the organisers. Athletes at Heathrow are being met by volunteers….including many pensioners, smartly uniformed……who want to be part of it all……a great national occasion. But they are unpaid.
G4S will have staff out there earning £8.50 an hour.
But further up the food chain, a lot of people will make a lot of money.
And there is a lot of money to be made. Athletes have seized the once in a lifetime opportunity of a “home” games t get just about every advertising contract possible. Even the Fabreze Fabric Freshener has an appearance from the wrestlers from Azerbaijan……..their socks smelling of strawberries (we are told).
Of course the greatest danger is Terrorism. Hopefully not. But if these Games do not produce the medals…..the British Public will be asking questions. Awkward questions.