Mark Cantrell, Author

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BLOG: Olympics Farewell

Posted by Mark Cantrell on August 12, 2012 at 2:50 PM

A curmudgeon to the end,

but didn't the athletes do well?

Mark Cantrell confesses to being an Olympics cynic, but all the same he applauds the sporting prowess demonstrated by the athletes: they put sincerity and spirit into an otherwise corporate festival of bread and circus

For the record, I'm an Olympics curmudgeon and thoroughly unapologetic about my lack of suitable patriotic fervour about the damn thing.


Since the sports men and women took to the field to do their thing, however, the curmudgeonly spirit has somewhat dwindled into the background.


That's because my grouchy cynicism was never aimed at the athletes; no, it was the whole edifice that was built in the run up to the Games. Almost quite literally in the case of the facilities, but more the whole ideological monolith constructed to get us cheering 'good old Blighty' and by extension our venal political and economic elites.


Frankly, there's been much to be cynical about. The cost overruns on the construction; the barefaced lies about regenerational legacy for the East London host boroughs; the military deployment and the fiasco that was G4S; the arrogance of the IOC elites and their desire for exclusive zil lanes; the marketing police and the sponsorship deals that would almost have us saluting the corporate logos like loyal subject peoples in a tinpot dictatorship.


Well, screw that! I'm won't salute the Union flag or sing the national anthem, so I'm certainly not going to tug my forelock to a corporate logo.


Frankly, these corporates need to be taught their place - subject to the vetos of democracy like everybody else - especially the crooks in the finance and banking industry (money laundering fraudsters that they've been shown to be, yet still they expect to lord it over the rest of us).


And I'm sure there'll be plenty to stoke the embers of cynicism in the aftermath, once the facilities are converted to yuppie and 'affordable' housing and the gentrification of East London continues, to the detriment of the communities who were promised a stake in the post-Olympics future.


Anyway, so yes I am an unashamed Olympics curmudgeon, but like everybody else (bar certain rightwing MPs) my jaw dropped too at the spectacle of Danny Boyle's fantastic opening ceremony.


Okay, so a confession, I didn't watch it as it happened, I was quite prepared to ignore the whole Olympics deal, but then the things I heard about it on the likes of Twitter piqued my curiosity so I caught it on the Beeb's playback, and, well, wow...


No, it didn't burst my curmudgeon spirit, but I can still salute Boyle's creative - and gently subversive - show in acknowledgment not only of the performance but my own appreciation of the display; it's quite possible to be cynical about the elites looking to bask in the glory, whilst celebrating the creative efforts of those putting together the show-stealing spectacle. Boyle, to my mind, gave his heart and soul to the people - not to Britain's self-serving elites - that day. So, well done there.


And then the Games commenced and there was little to feed my curmudgeonly spirit, so it kind of hibernated in the back brain. My Olympics cynicism was never aimed at, or invoked by, the sports men and women; I'm not into sport, so why should it?


I wasn't following the athletes on the field, or track, or watercourse or whatever, I must say, but I had an eye and an ear open for the highlights and the results. I took a quiet delight in the medal wins by British athletes, and a slightly less quiet delight in the suggestion that Yorkshire was doing rather well in the medal stakes.


Making a song and a dance of things isn't my style, but I could still give a mental toast and an inward smile for Jessica Ennis, Bradley Wiggins, Mo Farah, and all the rest.


By the same measure, I took delight in the achievements of other countries too, Usain Bolt's brilliant performance, for instance, or the medal win by the Chinese swimmer, Ye Shiwen; frown, too, at the cheap accusations of doping that were thrown at her.


So, yes, on this closing day of the 2012 Olympic Games, I remain a committed curmudgeon and I make no apologies. To the elites who wanted to create a patriotic jamboree to subordinate we proles to their mastery, and distract from their austerity, I say to hell with you.


But to the sports men and women the world over who descended on London to compete - I say a hearty congratulations to one and all. Alongside the sporting prowess, you demonstrated to our political masters the nature of commitment, integrity and sincerity that they too often lack.


Well done!


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