I was listening to the radio this morning here in the UK and was told how my nation has united behind the Olympic spirit. The cozily pompous presenter, James Naughtie, one of the BBC’s Today programmes most unctuous self-regarding legends, waxed lyrically about the rising sun gleaming gold on London’s Olympic Stadium and told me that we were all excited. Actually, I was wondering what to have for breakfast.
Well, what is real personal excitement and what is this apparent feeling that we the British are all excited, united and brought together for these Games? I dunno. A lot of Mr Naughtie’s excitement, of course, was at being a BBC presenter sitting in a box with a view of all the preparations within the Olympic stadium. It’s exciting too, no doubt, reporting and having to wax lyrical live on the radio.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson does excitement well, if he ever gives up politics, he should try selling carpets. He has been sounding excited for weeks now and he is sure to keep up the moment through out the Games. Our politicians, are all sounding excited, hoping that some Olympic gold dust will rub off on their drabness. No such luck for Prime Minister David Cameron who manages to make even exciting things sound dull. Poor guy, he’ll do anything now to dig his failing government out of the worsening double-dip recession. what is the opposite of the Midas Touch? Whatever it is, David Cameron has it. His hope that the Olympics will encourage billions of overseas investment in Britain from visiting dignitaries is just far-fetched. They’re only here for the corporate hospitality.
Excited too, apparently, were the thousands of people who lined the streets to see the Olympic torch relayed through our towns. Here in Lewes, I went to see the phenomenon but only really saw a flash of torch and a lot of corporate advertising. I did feel excited though as I made my way down to see if I could see that torch – an excitement left unfulfilled. There’s a lot of controlled hype in our newspapers today as well. We’re being told that we are all desperate to see the opening ceremony, a mystery revealed tonight. Are we as desperate to know as the papers suggest? in the end, I fear, we are just swept along on the river of media hysteria.
Mostly, the little that I have watched, I have found those Olympic opening ceremonies fundamentally garish, vulgar and, somehow, cold-hearted. I wondered if all those thousands of Chinese ceremony pawns were really united and thrilled by their part in the admittedly spectacular event – drilled for months from early morning til nightfall. I’m open to persuasion by tonight’s event but I’m suspicious of big, crowd rousing, rallies especially when our polticians, media and marketing men, tell us that this is “historic”, “iconic”, “exciting” etc. etc. and, especially, when they tell us that it is “uniting the nation.” How do they know? At best it is wishful thinking.
No, for me at least the excitement is in the athleticism of these men and women who are coming together in London to push themselves to their limits and to share with us all the wonder of the human body. I don’t need any marketing propaganda, verbose radio presenters or any oily politicians to inflame my excitement at those moments when sporting records are broken by athletes performing what words, especially hyped ones, fail to convey.