Yesterday, the British champion diver, Tom Daley, posted a simple video message on YouTube to tell the world that he was in a relationship with a man and that he was very happy. Tom was a poster boy for the Olympic Team. His buff, pool-trained torso (naked save for the tiniest and tightest Speedos) was plastered everywhere. Even at the tender age of 19, Tom is clearly well aware of his image and public persona. In our celebrity-obsessed world, I assume that he hopes this will sustain him long after the diving career has dried up. I hope so too. I also assume that this very public confession was his own idea. It was brave but was it also foolish? If his agent/manager/PR team had known in advance, I have no doubt they would have cautioned him against it. The revelation has unleashed a tidal wave of poison from the tweeting pond life. This was to be expected. Personally, I applaud his candour and rather think that his popularity will be enhanced by it. His disclosure sends out a message of hope to young people everywhere that it’s ok to be gay. And for this, Tom deserves a pot of gold medals.
We Brits love to wallow in glorious failure. It’s almost a national fetish. We relish the underdog fighting against insurmountable odds – remember Eddie the Eagle and the Jamaican Bobsleigh Team (not to mention Dunkirk)? This time we had a runaway success on our hands and it crept up behind us like a batty boy in a back room, confounding the doubters and crowned with a bulging bag of bling. Blighty has been in a foul mood for years and, for a brief moment, people have something to smile about. For me, it was the Paralympics that defined the true spirit of the Games – from mad dash to Mad Max, fire to phoenix, high fliers to high wires, gold-play to Coldplay – the very best of humanity tainted only by the very worst of Channel 4 coverage. Keenly covered at home, not so keenly covered abroad, some of our friends across the seas should hang their heads in shame. The Americans televised only limited highlights (despite the presence of a large and impressive American Team) and my former foster home, Turkey, decided to screen a soccer match instead of the opening ceremony. Tonight saw a joyous and very British closing show received by a wall of noise. It was a triumph – a triumph made in Britain.
Now that the big top has come down and the circus is leaving town for Brazil, what next? Will the park become a weedy white elephant like so many of the past? Will the colossal cost deepen the double dip as the bills drop on the mat? There’s a chance, a good chance, that the legacy will endure. The park itself is small and perfectly formed (a bit like me), the velodrome was going to be built anyway and the aquatics centre will replace the aging National Sports Centre pools at Crystal Palace. I used to train there when, for a short while before I discovered hormones, I was a promising young diver. It was a bugger to get to. As for the Olympic Stadium itself, it’s a great fit for big-ticket concerts by big-wig stars. It’s already booked for the 2017 World Athletic Championships and we may yet see Hammers’ fans screaming from the terraces. Transport links in that part of town have been completely transformed and the Olympic Village will provide quality affordable housing for one of the most deprived areas of the country. Remember the Millennium Dome (itself a 2012 venue)? Who would have thought back in 2001 that it would emerge as one of the most successful music venues in the world as the O2? Few facilities were specifically built for the Games and some were designed to be temporary. One or two may even get packed up and shipped off to Rio for 2016. Now, here’s a thought. Perhaps the IOC should commission IKEA to design the travelling flat pack games. Now where did I put that allen key?
See the best of the Games. You’ll have to click into You Tube to watch the video.
When Winston Churchill (in the form of Timothy Spall) popped his head out of the top of Big Ben I knew we were in for a treat. More party and less politics (although John Lennon’s Imagine was a timely touch), the closing show rocked the ages. The stadium was bathed in the Union Flag. The iconic ensign is better suited than most for artistic interpretation and made a perfect backdrop and cat walk for the drama. Her Maj decided to stay at home and put her feet up leaving a decidedly nervous-looking HRH Harry in her place. She’s probably had quite enough of Brian May shaking his electric guitar around like a penis extension. Do cut that hair, Brian. It’s not 1975 and you’re not 20. George Michael, who not so long ago was detained at Her Majesty’s Pleasure, sang Freedom. His voice held up well considering he was recently on nodding terms with the Grim Reaper. Other highlights for me included Elbow performing One Day Like This, ushers in blue bowler hats with light bulbs stuck on top and skating nuns in Union Flag knickers. Eric Idle’s rendition of Always Look on the Bright side of Life from the Life of Brian dressed as a bacofoil angel must have both puzzled and pissed off the pious. It was a real crash, bang, wallop of an extravaganza. Below is my favourite naughty but nice image from the last few days. What were your best bits?
As the sun sets on the Friendly Games (bring on the Paralympics), I bring you an accidental guest post from an ancient friend and co-host of the Olympic Opening Ceremony knees-up we attended. It’s accidental because it’s actually an email he sent to the good, the gobby and the inebriated who graced the penthouse pad party and emptied his wine cellar.
Hit it Ian…
Following on from the AMAZING opening, this last week just seems to have transformed London from the mildly aggressive and pushy city we all know and usually love, into something rather special. Just wanted to share some of my ‘all warm inside’ moments of this historic week.
One was my fairly usual 9am-ish District Line ride to work. Alongside the 2012 tracksuit wearing larger men and womenfolk who look like they could only win Gold in a pasty eating competition, 2 Austrian Olympians joined the carriage at Mile End in their matching white tracksuits complete with Austrian team logo and dangling Olympic passes. A young lad in his twenties and an older (well mid-thirties) tall guy with cropped hair (very Teutonic). As I glanced up from my Metro (could that paper be any duller?) the young lad had his arm around cropped hair and when they looked into each others eyes, they had that look that only people in the honeymoon period of a relationship have – a mix of lust, anticipation & hope. Of course no-one batted an eyelid in the carriage, and it was as normal as delays on the Central line..I bet they didn’t do that in Beijing.
Another transport trip earlier in the week saw us sharing a Docklands train with a mass of nationalities returning from the Greenwich Park Eventing. a middle aged Irish guy was using the blarney on some loud and tipsy New Zealand wenches and telling them that Ireland’s 5th place result was the best ever and to celebrate he’d been asked to a drinks reception at the Irish Embassy. Now that’s how to impress tipsy Antipodeans.
Then the most heart warming happening of all followed on the next day. A morning trip to Boots in Piccadilly Circus on the way to work to get some essentials (no, not those…). As I was perusing the men’s toiletries aisle a smart young lad with suit and badge asked me if I would like some help and then not only took me to the item on the shelf, he picked it for me and offered it in said basket all with some witty banter and winning smiles. He signed off by wishing me a nice day. I was momentarily stunned. Normally you could have collapsed in the feminine hygiene aisle in this Boots and been walked over for ten minutes before Security’s arrival to remove you. I almost skipped to work.
Add on to the above the smiling and funny volunteers who guided me through security at the North Greenwich Arena (02 to us) within ten minutes from tube to seat, the mix on the streets and shops of Olympics bods, fans and tourists, the genuine (and noisy) fans filling all the fantastic stadia even at 10am in the morning..and the fact I seem to be permanently glued to Claire Balding or Gabby Logan on the magnificent BBC (abuse it at your peril Jeremy *unt) and it all completes my warm glow for this beautiful city I call home.
Even the weather has been on our side.
Arise London for you are putting on a winning performance as I always believed you would, from the energy of the Olympic stadium, the noise of the Velodrome, the beauty of Hyde Park and the majesty of Greenwich. And you and your welcome are the true star of this 30th Olympiad so far.
Not like me to be effusive. Must be the warm glow (or the onset of senility). Back to Gary Lineker and Sue Barker’s helmet hair…
I managed to stumble through the interview on Future Radio without too many pregnant pauses or tripping over too many ums and aahs. MC Di was warm and engaging and witty Nick was a gently inquisitive host. Adding to the splendid blend was roving reporter Nick C, a young man reading history at Cambridge, no less. Just before the show, Di offered me an ice cream to calm me down and warm me up. I had a dribble of chocolate on my chin throughout the interview. No one mentioned it. Liam waited in the car park and recorded the gig, balancing his laptop on one knee as he jammed it up against the car speaker. He needn’t have bothered. Di provided me with a link to the podcast.
I’ve added my star turn to my Jack Scott Website. Click here or on the radio image to have a listen. The future’s bright, the future’s perking pink.
If you prefer, you can listen to the entire show on Future Radio’s website (click on Pride Live 06 08 12).
I chose Mika’s ‘We Are Golden’ for my playlist of one. The boy’s a genius. The track speaks to me of youthful hope and independence, and Blighty’s golden haul at the Olympics.