Tag Archives: Olympics

The Year in Flags: A Review of 2012

30 Dec

Old GloriesSadly, this year, the American flag seems to have spent quite a lot of time at half-mast. In July, it was lowered for the victims of the Aurora shooting; in August, for the victims of the Oak Creek shooting; in September, for the victims of the attack in Libya; and now for the victims in Newtown. Flying the flag at half-mast symbolically honours those who died, but I can’t help thinking that preventing future tragedies might be a more meaningful tribute. Unfortunately, that would require big picture thinking—not always a popular choice as evidenced by this year’s Presidential election. Thankfully, the right man won, but enough voted for Romney to show that many Americans are confused by issues of class. “Middle class” seems to be interpreted as “not homeless” and ultra-rich means “me, not at the moment, of course, but any day now.” One’s actual lifestyle and the reality of how it and the country would be affected were inconsequential. A bit like what’s happening with the current debates on gun control. And on mental health care. And on who should have won The Voice.

Surely, there’s got to have been something positive in America over the last twelve months . . . let me think . . . oh yeah, more states and even the President spoke up in support of marriage equality. Oops, I forgot, it was that which directly led to shooting in Sandy Hook, right, Rev. James Dobson?

Union JacksCloser to home, though, things looked much cheerier: the Union Jack was flying all over the damn place. We waved the flag for the Queen’s Jubilee, for a successful London Olympics and for William’s good work in promptly impregnating the wife. Well done to us all!

Of course, the Tories still want to continue with their obviously-successful-so-far austerity cuts (after all, those Jubilee and Olympic celebrations don’t come cheap, you know), but luckily, this year the BBC taught us that if you close your eyes to the bad stuff, it goes away—never to return. So as long as you’re not young, old, unemployed, working or a Christian woman who wants to serve her church, 2012’s been champion for you!

Now, my dears, I know this sounds quite gloomy and doomy. (Perhaps I should have warned you in advance to delay reading until you’re sober, I apologise.) If you were expecting a bit of harmless fun, I’m afraid you may have confused me with black tar heroin. I’m all about the harsh truth, you know that, so put your seatbelt on, baby, because you’re about to get hit with the harshest truth of all: I’ve still got faith in humanity. You, yes, you, the one sitting on the chair, your continued commitment to keeping my books in circulation bettering yourselves and our world is proof that, despite the bad news, there is goodness out there, my friends.

So together let’s make next year a better one, yeah?


The Olympics: The World Coming Together To Do Something Nice For Once In Its Life

26 Jul

The Olympic brouhaha: yes, it exists. We all knew it would and we were right. Babies need their own tickets but might not be sitting with their parents? Check. Budget issues? Check. Will.i.am carrying the torch? Of course. Security bungles? Got ’em. Confusing the South Korean flag for North Korean one? Yup. Boris Johnson? Obviously.

However, as the old man who appears to be living in an empty shed behind the primary school told me as I passed him this morning, “Catch the Olympic spirit, duck! Why not?” He has a point. Why not get excited for something that at least kind of temporarily unifies the world in the spirit of goodwill, dedication and sportsmanship? Before I had a chance to respond to him, he shouted, “Go for the gold!” then tipped over and fell asleep in a puddle of urine (I presume his own). I think we can find inspiration in his unintentionally wise words.

I shan’t be attending any of the events myself. I entered the lottery and did receive a few tickets, but I decided to be generous and donate them to a charity to make some poor kiddy’s Olympic dream come true. (A little boy from Laos received them, though I’ve got no idea who’s paying for his and his family’s flight to London but I can tell you for sure it ain’t gonna be me). I feel like my act of kindness is a perfect example of the positivity that the Olympic games can foster.

If you’re not much a sports fan, it’s easy to feel intimidated (read: bored) by the event, but there really is something for everyone at the Games. You’ve got twenty-four hours left, so use it wisely to learn something about what’s going to be happening here over the next few weeks. Stop being so difficult and just get with the programme, why don’t you?

Five Things Olympic Skeptics Should Consider:

  • Most of the athletes’ bodies are pretty damn easy on the eye and are usually displayed in tight and/or skimpy clothing. Those of you who normally have to shamefacedly ogle sexy, young things can do so openly during the Olympics. Cheer while you’re ogling, and you’ll earn respect for your patriotism.
  • The BBC will be broadcasting 2,500 hours of TV, radio and online coverage of the Olympics, none of which will be fronted by Fearne Cotton. That fact alone is bound to bring joy to the entire viewing public.
  • I don’t support gambling, as you know, but there’s some good money to be made if you place your bets wisely. For some insider information, look no further than this: I’d stake Christopher’s inheritance on Cyrek Nazwisko from Poland taking home the gold in Men’s Singles Synchronized Swimming. Apparently his precision is impeccable, and he’s an underdog as well which always makes for a happy ending (and large cash payout).
  • The Olympics are an ideal educational experience for children and adults alike. Two hundred and five nations are sending more than 10,000 athletes to London so there will be ample opportunities for learning about different cultures and customs while laughing at their silly names and ridiculous national anthems.
  • Basically, every copper in the country is going to be occupied elsewhere so if you’ve been meaning to have it out with that bloke who borrowed your ladder but never returned it, now might be a good time to break into his garage and take it back. You can thank the Olympians for helping you resolve that issue.

If you’re not interested in the Olympics, you’re not interested, and I’m not going to fight you over it. If you want to be stubborn and throw away a chance to enjoy something nice for a change, you’ve got that right.

But I’ll just leave you with this thought: the Olympic motto is “Faster, Higher, Stronger.” Remember the last time you heard those words and chose to ignore them? That’s right, it was the night before your ex girlfriend chucked you and told the whole town how crap you are in bed. Think about it.