Roll up, roll up. Love it or loathe it, the Olympic circus has come to town. Uniquely, London is the only city to have hosted the over-bloated jamboree three times – 1908, 1948 and now 2012. Ironically, given the current double dip recession, it was the 1948 beano that was called the ‘Austerity Games’ as it was held barely three years after the end of the Second World War; a grim time when Blighty was bankrupt, on rations and in the red to our generous Yankee cousins. Remarkably, the debt was only finally settled in 2006.
At the 11th hour, it hardly matters whether the 2012 Olympiad will be a monumental waste of taxpayer’s cash that will put London in hock for decades or a monumental celebration of civic renaissance that will leave an enduring legacy. I know the site of the Olympic park well. Before the transformation it was a polluted post-industrial shit hole. I think it was worth winning the Games just to see the smug smile being wiped off former President Chirac’s arrogant face when London pipped Paris into second place. Did you manage to get tickets? Me neither. We have a plan B. We’ll be watching the opening ceremony from a balcony overlooking the stadium. It pays to have a dear old friend with a posh penthouse in the right part of town. Last time, the Middle Kingdom presented an epic spectacle of precision and uniform behaviour from a cast of thousands. This time, I’m hoping for something a little less regimented with a little more panache, diversity and individuality. A few gongs in the bag would be nice too.
To commemorate the start of the Games I give you the British diving team being sexy:
We’ve finally managed to collate all the incriminating photographic evidence of our wicked trip to Bordeaux back in September to celebrate the half century of Blighty life friend, Ian. Liam has produced a timely public heath broadcast about the evils of alcohol. A sorry collection of over-the-hill so-called fine and upstanding members of society (well, except for the birthday boy who runs a sex shop in Soho), strutting their drunken stuff in an isolated French farm house is a pathetic spectacle. It’s enough to put you off your pink gin. Listen up kids, in Nancy Reagan’s immortal words, ‘Just say no.’
It’s been a double celebration of our birthdays. We were feted in style by a succession of festivities sponsored by a select sample of the Bodrum Belles and Gumbet Gals, and topped off by a birthday bombshell. Blighty-life friend and part-time thesp, Clive, flew in for the occasion on a surprise visit. Liam was suitably startled and unusually speechless. Our days were awash with lavish fizz and food, calorific cakes with candles, and generous bountiful gifts.
Dear Clive is a flimsy sleeper and needs total sensory deprivation. He couldn’t quite fit the isolation tank into his hand luggage so had to make do with a Virgin Atlantic mask and earplugs the size of suppositories. Thankfully, Clive managed to get his beauty sleep (despite the dogs, traffic, call to prayer and a plague of flies) and awoke each day rested and raring to go. Liam and I drank the house dry while a sober Clive looked on with amiable amusement. When the white was spent, I resorted to sucking out brandy from the fruit cake Clive had lovingly baked and slipped into his luggage.
After a solid week of liquor decadence and wringing our livers out in the sink, the show is now over. These two ageing queens are resting their drunken bones. Until next year.
Last night, the heavens opened and we were entertained by a real snap, crackle and pop of a storm. What is it about Turkish raindrops? They seem so much heavier than the Blighty variety as they fall to the ground like cluster bombs. As we watched the spectacle from our balcony, our courtyard became littered with adolescent olives and the road outside was overcome by a river of brown sludge that sloshed against our garden wall. We unplugged our fancy electricals as a precaution against the strobe lightning, positioned towels at vulnerable points around the house and hoped for the best.
At least the town’s first autumnal wash did douse the semi-parched garden. At the beginning of the summer, our neighbour took sole charge of our joint plot and made a valiant effort to keep it well watered. His initial enthusiasm eventually waned to half-hearted resentment; he seemed very pleased with the biblical downpour. We were less enthusiastic. Midway through the tempest, our roof sprang a leak and our fuse box, which is illogically located on an external wall, tripped. Compared to some, we got off lightly. We’re planning a joint birthday shindig this month; our birthdays are two weeks apart. At this rate it will be illuminated by candles and guests will be entertained by transistor radio while they sup warm white wine and dance around strategically placed buckets.
Hot on the heels of Clive’s double came Ian’s extended fun fest. The function room of a posh gastropub overlooking Victoria Park in East London was the host for the opening episode. Squally showers did nothing to dampen our spirits as we partied the afternoon away entertained by faces old and new. Drinks were plentiful and complementary and the bash bounced along to the naff sounds of Eurovision. The annual song-fest is a huge but harmless addiction for Ian and his partner, Matt. At the close of play it was back to their Bow penthouse for more liquid refreshment and more Eurovision. They wisely invested in their top storey pad just after London won the Olympics and their balcony directly overlooks the grand stadium. Since it is easier to win the lottery than secure a seat at the opening ceremony, I know where we’ll be on opening night.
Our Euro adventure ended with a final flourish in a French farmhouse a few miles outside Bordeaux. Ian rented a four bedroom pile that oozed rustic Gallic charm and invited along his nearest and dearest to sample his hospitality and clear out his wine cellar. The weather was kind and we had two boozy days of wit and repartee around the bracing pool. Ian and Matt played the gracious hosts with the most with understated panache and saintly patience. Our glasses were never empty as we sank the Bordeaux in Bordeaux and the table was always set for endless fine French fare. The final night’s jollity had Clive and Angus dancing a rumba in the kitchen and me doing something rather obscene with a banana. When Clive makes it as a full-time thespian he’ll be the odds on favourite to win Strictly Come Dancing. ‘Not with my arthritis,’ he yelled from the wings. I’m sure the Bow Belles were glad to see the back of us when we departed, if only to get some rest. I was carrying my liver home in a jiffy bag.