Saturday, 16 June 2012


The millions have been spent, the committees convened, the barns stormed, large number of bank notes have been trousered. Now is the time for unveiling…

The secret is out. Old Lord Coe and his fiddlers three (actually many more) are overjoyed. Forget Peking or Beijing or whatever name it is known by this week. Eat your fickle toreadors’ hearts out, Spain. We’ve got an Opening Ceremony, a feat of imagination to rival Goebel’s notion of the Olympic torch; an idea he probably got watching those book burnings which were such a heartening aspect of life under the Nazis.

We are going to have a toy farmyard - complete with model cows and dear little milkmaids. Not, I suppose, dwarfed with giant wind turbines but certainly with real clouds cunningly contrived to shower the spectators with real rain. Though don’t forget to provide free umbrellas to those Olympian bribe takers who decide which country will be burdened with debt. Go nicely with the private roads, the chauffeurs with peaked caps and the free hotels that helped them to come to an impartial decision.

There used to be a state of mind amongst editors cynically known as “Closing Time Genius” which described the unworkable ideas they staggered back with from lunch.

Lord Coe and his courtiers must have had an Olympian lunch.

When I was little my mother, and her mother before her, never missed the Ideal Home Exhibition which came to Manchester every year.

It had show houses and gadgets for putting the hard work into household chores. My grannie bought them by the bushel. When she died we found them, still in their original wrappings, in carrier bags stacked in the glory hole (the cupboard under the stairs). My mother pounced on them with glee to add to her own considerable collection. When she died I found them nestling coyly in the same carrier bags with her own collection of Kleene Eazies: combined potato peeler and cork screw, tiny looms for mending socks, scone moulds shaped into aces - spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs. Ideal for bridge parties but not much use for my old mum who got confused playing Happy Families.

The exhibition always had a centre piece - of guess what?

A model farm with wooden animals and sound effects of cows mooing (make a note, Lord Coe, my grannie was entranced, though my old mum was scared of cows).

But hold your foot up, Your Lordship. Why not go the whole hog and have the athletes coming out two by two behind their countries’ flags, from a giant plastic Ark. With ubiquitous Boris as an intoxicated Noah? Come think of it, his Mrs Noahs could come out two by two: they seem to be in plentiful supply.

The permutations are endless. Get rid of the runners and the riders, the jumpers and the boxers.

How about a Pentathlon of Snakes and Ladders, Ludo and long distance Tiddly Winks? Musical chairs is always fun, perhaps with Stuart Hall playing the piano in jovial mood.

At the Ideal Home Exhibition they always had a gypsy orchestra, usually Romanies from romantic Rochdale, who played in a restaurant puzzlingly decked out as a Parisian boulevard cafĂ©, where you could get tripe by the yard from United Cattle Products. Which always inspired my grannie to warn me: “If U.C.P on tripe, don’t eat it”, to the chagrin of my mother who lived in dread of being shown up.

Don’t have tickets. Give every visitor a sheaf of forms to fill in like real farmers are burdened with. The Bribe Takers will require an upholstered office suite staffed with glamorous secretaries to fill in their forms.

A closing ceremony? Nothing easier. A presentation to the bribe takers of bills for accommodation, meals, private roads, chauffer driven cars.

In that way you will be the first country to end the Games with a small profit.


I read that part of the Games opening ceremony will be a 'mosh pit' and I was baffled, then discovered it was a free-for-all frenzy. On the streets, it would be a riot.

Ken Ashton

Last time I saw anything like that was in “Zulu”.

Sky News:

Tourism is expected to slump during the Olympics and not just in London - as high prices keep visitors away.

The 2012 Games were predicted to be a big money-spinner attracting hordes of holidaymakers to the UK, but bookings for many attractions, hotels and tours are down around 33% and show no sign of picking up.

Simon Jenkins;

Given this week's PR coup, I wonder if Boyle might have others up his sleeve. He might convert the rest of the £27m into £10 notes and set fire to the lot in a metaphor for the modern Olympics in the middle of the stadium, to a thunderous backdrop of Underworld drum'n'bass. Or a Frankenstein monster might rise from its bed, take an almighty shot of Trainspotting smack and close the evening mimicking Prospero, declaring everyone mere spirits. "The baseless fabric of this vision, the cloud-capp'd towers, the glorious palaces … shall dissolve, and like the insubstantial pageant faded, leave not a rack behind." Now that would be a show.

The Guardian

NOTE TO BRIBE TAKERS: This column has been constructed without the use of the Olympic Logo which you have used instead of highwaymen’s pistols to extort even more money from shop keepers.


It was invented by Harry Truman, against considerable opposition the worst US President, and burnished by Winston Churchill in his famous Iron Curtain speech, fancying himself a latter day Pericles. They both had form. Truman dropped the atom bomb AFTER the Japanese had begged to surrender unconditionally, solely to frighten the Russians, and Churchill ordered his Chiefs of Staff in 1945 to prepare a plan for the invasion of Russia.

Sir Michael Howard, by a mile the best military historian, said on the collapse of the Soviet Union:

“No serious historian argues that Stalin ever had any intention of moving his forces outside the area he occupied in Eastern Europe.”

It was fantasy like Saddam Hussein’s Weapons of Mass Destruction, ready for launch in forty five minutes; like the domino theory that insisted that if the North won in Vietnam, the whole of South East Asia would go communist. The unwinnable war in Afghanistan was said to be revenge for 9/11. In fact an attack on the Taliban in Afghanistan was already being planned in Washington to settle old scores with al Qaeda.

You can read the whole sorry story, deeply sourced, in Andrew Alexander’s seminal “America and the Imperialism of Ignorance”.

So I am as little concerned by Mrs Clinton’s warning that the cold war is starting up again as I was by the many lies of her priapic husband.