Insurance is easy cash for the fat cats, as simple as falling off a log. When we shipped the tarnished family silver back to Blighty, cover was compulsory: no pay, no way. It’s one of life’s expenses that you put down to experience and write off, like the unrequited Christmas card to an ungrateful relative. Regular readers may remember that our tatty heirlooms were raided by the fuzz and that an ostentatious hi-fi speaker was badly damaged. Time to claim, we thought – in for a penny, in for pound. In went the claim, back came the cash. A check (Yankee spelling), landed on the mat for $250. God Bless America and God bless Travel Guard, Inc. Of course, by the time all the middlemen down the monetary line took their cut, I only ended up with £130.
We leapt off the train from Norwich at Stratford (the main gateway to the Olympic Games). It was busy but not uncomfortably so. There was no sign of the much anticipated transport gridlock that has dominated the news for months. We jumped on a bus to the penthouse pad overlooking the stadium and took our seats for the biggest show in town. As I had hoped, it was a mesmerising salute to British polish, quirkiness, individuality and diversity – funny, moving, creative, self-deprecating, inclusive, mildly subversive with tongue jammed firmly in cheek. The eccentric cultural cabaret was infused with subtle (and not so subtle) political messages to the great, the good and the incompetent both at home and away. It mattered little to me that much of the humour might have been lost on the globally bemused. It was worth all the money just to get the first lesbian kiss ever broadcast on Saudi TV. After much reticence, all but a few diehard cynics now seem to have risen to the occasion and finally taken the Games to their hearts. There’s a real buzz in the air, a buzz you can feel, taste and see. I think we have Mitt Romney to thank for this. His ungracious remarks about London’s readiness to stage the Games have galvanised opinion. No one likes a bad-mannered, bad-mouthing guest in their house, do they?
I give you one of the many highlights from the show – HM becomes a Bond girl. I hope our German friends weren’t too miffed by the Dambuster’s theme. Naturally, Her Maj was as inscrutable as ever.
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:
When it comes to social issues, readers may think I’m a bit of a one trick pony – gay this, gay that, blah, blah, blah. In fact, as a bleeding heart pinko liberal, I come equipped with a range of predictable views on a range of predictable issues. People who feed and water me will attest to this. Apart from the fairy thing, I rarely use my blog as a platform to spread the liberal word. This isn’t why I started it. But (yes, here comes the ‘but’) there’s one thing that caught my eye recently that I just can’t resist commenting on. It’s been reported in the New Civil Rights Movement, an American online magazine, that Arizonan women are now legally pregnant two weeks before conception. Even though I agree with a woman’s right to choose, I’m not going to wade into the whole American abortion debate. It’s a divisive issue that stirs up an enormous amount of emotion on both sides of the argument. However, isn’t this all getting a bit daft? In effect, this means that a virgin can be pregnant (Hallelujah, it’s a miracle). Why stop there? What about those wet dreams of our teenage years? Or don’t we boys count?
Auntie Beeb recently ran an article about gays in the military – not in America this time – but in our foster home. It makes comical reading. For young gay Turks to receive their pink exemption slip (I prefer lilac myself) they have to prove their perversion with photographic evidence. Got a few holiday snaps of you being bummed on the beach in Bodrum? Now, young man, it only counts if you’re Martha not Arthur. The next best thing is to see you in a frock and slingbacks*. Anything floral by Laura Ashley will do. You couldn’t make it up.
For all those wasted years of navel gazing by the horrified higher echelons of the British armed forces, gay and lesbian Britons are now allowed to serve their country. People who know a great deal more than I do about these things say this has had absolutely no detrimental effect on the operational efficiency of Her Maj’s army, air force or navy (well, it’s always been rum and bum in the navy anyway). Military failure is reserved for our hapless politicians who send our brave boys (and girls) out to fight wars they can’t win.
Let’s face it, when it came to periods of genuine national emergency (like a world war), no one cared less where you put it. We were all cannon fodder back then (unless you were Quentin Crisp, of course).
Thank you to Pansyfan Paul who sent me the article.
*A cock in a shock frock reminds me of my encounter with transsexual prostitutes on my very first trip to Istanbul in 2003, but that’s another story.