Thursday, March 15, 2007

Bang Up Job, Love, Cost You 9.3 Big Ones

There was a certain poignancy about two seemingly unconnected stories on the BBC news. One was about some cowboys who had scammed pensioners out of thousands by telling them they needed building work. The other was about Tessa Jowell's announcement to the Commons that the 2012 London Olympics would cost £9.3 billion as opposed to the £2.4 billion promised at the time of the bid. They are coming perilously close to my own forecast of £12 billion. (Mine is, of course, a minimum figure.) The two stories are connected as follows. We are the pensioner, the scamee, and the Olympics boosters are the scammers. The patter goes thus:
'It's a big job, love, the roof's caving in. You need a whole Olympics up there. But, look, I like your face and I can see you aren't exactly one of them Russian oligarchs, I'll do it for £2.4 billion. Can't say fairer than that.'
Two weeks later: 'Bigger job than we thought, love, cost you 9.3 big ones now. Still, it'll be a bang up job and it'll last a lifetime. Well, four weeks tops, but it will feel like a lifetime.'
Where, in the name of sanity, is the Stop the Olympics campaign?


  1. Humbly, Bryan, in my own small way, I have started with a poll.

  2. I've always considered athletics, which still constitutes the cornerstone of the Olympics, as sport's equivalent of the public sector.

    Athletes and their personal coaches constantly mewl for more public money, as if it somehow behoves the taxpayer to bankroll the aspirations of each and every pole-vaulter or 50km walker, regardless of his or her competitive viability. This does not occur in other sports, where the market makes a realistic assessment of future talent and nurtures it accordingly.

    In keeping with recent public sector debacles, from which the culpable civil servants have emerged without detriment, athletes who fail miserably are not deprived of their funding or ordered to repay their travel and accommodation costs. Rather, they are congratulated on their pluck at having faced insuperable odds and the fact of their failure is then shamelessly paraded as proof of the need for yet more public funding.

    For some reason, athletics, and a fortiori the Olympics, elicits a unique sentimentalism and is portrayed as the sporting paragon of egalitarian and "community" values. As long as it is imbued with these nebulous characteristics, which are the overriding values of the ruling elite and are so flaccid as to be immune from refutation, athletics will remain protected at the highest level from the crude requirement of value-for-money.

  3. I can't tell you how happy I am that New York lost the right to host the Olympics to London.

  4. London 2012 - I can't wait! I know it's costing a few bob, but what would your government do with the money anyway if it didn't spend it on the Olympics? Buy another few Trident missiles, perhaps (just to be on the safe side)? Or maybe they could scam the public into believing another war is necessary and spend it bombing the bejaysus out of another rogue state (just to be on the safe side)? Don't be a spoilsport, Bryan. It'll be great. You'll see.

  5. Imbued with the can-do spirit of the United States of America, I urge you to look to the voters of the great state of Colorado, who said no to the 1976 Winter Games.

    Of course, back in my native land, Montreal got stuck with a white elephant of an unfinished stadium for the same year's Summer Games, a Games that could no more lose money than a man could have a baby, in the words of the mayor, and bonds that took thirty years to pay off.

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