I Say, Old Chap, Jolly Well Done


Saturday August 4th 2012. The day it all changed for British Sport. Hopefully. Maybe they’ll realise that with the right help and facilities, we Brits can actually win something ?  Perhaps they won’t knock it all down once the world’s cameras leave ? Perhaps they’ll think about keeping or even upping the funding of school and youth sports clubs. Perhaps. If we don’t grab this opportunity of the wave of sporting euphoria we will regret it for years and years to come.

Just fantastic footage of Colin Jackson (GB Olympic Silver and world record holder, 110m hurdles), Denise Lewis (GB, Gold, Heptathlon) and US golden god Michael Johnson giving a two-fingered ripple to Mo Farah, a Somalian refugee, now British citizen running for Britain. And isn’t it great to see Brits open up at last ? You never know, we might stop apologising when we win something.

Baron de Coubertin coined the phrase “It’s not the winning but the taking part that counts”. I think, finally the Brits may have put all that to bed.

Fine, have fun, take part, but win. That’s what GB sport seems to be saying this week. Finally “Play Up and Play the Game” seems to have been discarded in the same bin as walking when you know you’ve nicked it, owning-up to handling the ball in the penalty area, or admitting you were off your feet in a ruck. Probably for the best. Probably. For the first time in my life we seem to have a generation of sportsmen (and women) who won’t put up with coming second to his (or her) rival from USA or Australia. It’s all very odd, as Englishmen (or women) [alright, Stan, don’t labour the point] aren’t brought up to want to win games. Maybe it’s all changed ?

And while we’re at it, I have seen a lot of complaints about the French announcements at medal ceremonies. I assume this happens because the Baron was French and therefore etc etc etc…Thank your lucky stars he wasn’t Welsh: “And Fair Play to the Fablass Tidy lass in the third lane, butt”. I’d give back my medal.

But anyway…

The culmination of a sensational day for “Team GB”. Even some of the racists in The Shovel warmed to Mo as one of their own. Not all, of course. We still have more than our fair share of bigoted arseholes in Blighty, you know.

We haven’t changed that much.

Olympics for Dummies


I’m gonna take the incumbent out for a drink tonight, down to The Shovel (I may have mentioned it before.) But here’s a problem:  Although it’s not a very big pub, sometimes it’s very quiet, due to it being half empty. There are certain evenings when the Great British “Summer” doesn’t serve up the weather conducive to walking down to the boozer for a nice warm pint, leaving half-a-dozen or so of us to fend for ourselves, to create a buzz, and make an atmosphere.

What to do ….? hmmm….

I know ! Thanks to The Telegraph today, I know just what I’ll do:

I’m gonna pack a spare cardie, a pair of moleskin troos and me wellies. I’ll keep popping in-and-out of the loo, changing my clothes as I go. No-one will ever know. If I can persuade The Incumbent to put a spare frock in the bag, we can have a four-handed game of cards. THE PLACE WILL LOOK PACKED TO THE GUNWHALES !!!! What fun ! You can say what you like about that Seb Coe bloke, but he comes up with stuff that no-one would ever dream of.

I hear talk that we are to enter two donkey jackets, a pin-stripe suit and a set of overalls into the marathon to make up the numbers. Jacques Rogge need never know ( he’ll be too busy counting his money anyway).

Nice to see that Boris got down of that wire .

All Shall Sleep


I knew I had it somewhere. Took me ages to dig it our but I found my scorecard for the World’s Most Boring Arse competition held in Essex (where else ?) in March.

While there’s a dearth of sporting action to enjoy I thought I’d share it with you. I even remembered to jot down the scores for you. BBC Olympic Coverage ?  Ha!!

Apparently, Seb Coe had to pull out at the last minute, on the basis that he actually gave an interesting press conference earlier on in the year. Factually incorrect, but interesting nevertheless. This gave first reserve, the former head of Liverpool Council, Derek Hatton, the chance to compete in the world championships once again, over 20 years after he’d been barred for “excessive use of boredom”. A good result over fellow leftie mogadon and self-publicist, Paul Boateng, Hatton succumbed to the mastery of Colin Montgomery (“The White Pele”).

The real Pele suffered all competition from jet-lag, and at one stage almost put himself to sleep, before recovering consciousness to edge out rugby leg-end Gavin Hastings. But that didn’t dent the Scottish drive for glory. Backing up Montgomery was Sir Chris “The Flying Lullaby”  Hoy. Caledonia, world leaders in dullness, have enjoyed great success over the years at the Championships – winning it for the last 73 years – and with Monty and Hoy spearheading the attack, who would bet against them winning again ? Not me, that’s for sure. The early retirement of Gavin’s brother Scott, and the near-fatal narcolepsy of Sir Jackie Stewart doesn’t seem to have affected the bluntness of their armoury.

Disappointing tournaments Claire Balding (who looked confused to see Colin Montgomery in the same room) and John Lydon*, who just looked confused.

Deborah Meaden had to be destroyed after the first round.

*Johnny Rotten disqualified for not trying to be boring enough. Eubank goes through on review.

**The Winner received a Postal Order for £17.50, and a guest spot on Countdown.

Gong with the Wind


My mate Gav moans about (see comments) the BBC commentators “bigging-up”
(a phrase, I believe, in common parlance nowadays) British competitors at the Olympics to heights they couldn’t hope to attain. Tom Daley, Wiggly Baggins and Twiggy Broke-Legge in the 4 Day Horse Jockeying have all become victims of the curse of the commentator.

I suppose it depends on which sport you’re involved in. Swimmers get to be narrated by the quite excellent Andy Jameson and Adrian Moorhouse, two men who really know their stuff (although why they have Colin Montgomery in the box next to them is beyond me. What does he know about breast stroke, apart from the obvious?).

Monty bluffs his was through the swimming

If you’re unfortunate enough to be a cyclist you get Hugo Porter, fresh from retiring from international sport in 1928, and who has either left his spectacles back in Wolverhampton or reads a cycling race rather less well than I read Korean.

None, though, get more excited and excitable than Country File‘s very own Matt Baker who was in serious danger of suffering an orgasm during the men’s gymnastics on Monday night. For Matt, team GB can do no wrong and if Beth Twaddle’s knees fell off, Baker would claim it as an attempted Triple Dorito, punch the air and poor old Christine Still sitting beside him. (I don’t mean she’s still sitting beside him, just that Matt’s co-commentator’s name is Christine Still – she with the voice of a thousand Stukas.)

(Baker was probably not alone in orgasming over the boy gymnasts. Earlier in the BBC studio, Gabby Logan, Carl Lewis and Ian Thorpe all had a touch of the vapours when the subject came up).

My personal gripe (today) with the BBC is the so-called Olympic Body Match feature on their website. Here you can tap in your vital stats and they will calculate who you most resemble in the Olympic family. Apparently, my perfect match is Lijiao Gong:- a chinese woman shot putter.  I never expected Olga Korbut (no-one ever does) but surely there must be scope for a stewards on that one ? Bring me the Japanese coach !

SPOT OF THE DAY:

Nice to see our Royal family supporting Zara Phillips during the 10 yard Grouse Shoot. They even sobered up the Duchess of Ming for the event. Charlie, presumably, was having a day orf her.

Black n White Snaps


I know you’re just like me and can’t wait to get yourself to London to enjoy all the festivities that the Olympic Games has to offer. But, if you should find yourself at a loose end, or at London Bridge Station with an hour before your slot watching the 1 yard air rifle begins, please do yourself a favour and take yourself down to the South Bank, just by Boris’s place. There you’ll be able to see Tom Stoddart’s fabulous new open air photo exhibition.

If not the Greatest Living Geordie (my mum wins that award), Tom is certainly the greatest British photographer, and he buys his round, to boot (which is more than I can say for my mum). While you’re there you may even catch a glimpse of the great man himself. Tell him I sent you and you’ll immediately be asked to leave the area.

This is by far the best show in town this summer.

Photographer Tom Stoddart stands at his Perspectives photographic exhibition at More London on July 25, 2012 in London, England. Seventy-eight of Stoddart’s signature black and white pictures form a free, open-air display at More London Riverside, between City Hall and HMS Belfast. During his distinguished career Stoddart has travelled to more than 50 countries and documented such historic events as the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Siege of Sarajevo and the election of Nelson Mandela as South Africa’s first black president. The exhibition is in participation with The International Committee of The Red Cross for whom Stoddart has worked on their Healthcare in Danger campaign initiative that aims to address the widespread and severe impact of illegal and sometimes violent acts that obstruct the delivery of health care, damage or destroy facilities and vehicles, and injure or kill health-care workers and patients, in armed conflicts and other emergencies.
(July 24, 2012 – Source: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images Europe)

A Group of 4 Completely Unrelated Stories


“Prisoner escort company hit by more blunders: Group 4 press conference called to allay public fears undermined by loss of inmates.
THE INDEPENDENT. FRIDAY 16 APRIL 1993

A carefully stage-managed press conference called in an attempt to allay public fears over Group 4’s ability to transport prisoners to court was undermined last night when it emerged that the private security firm had lost two more inmates.

These latest blunders, following the escape of three prisoners and the mistaken release of a fourth during the first week of the company’s operation, will fuel criticism that the private escort service has been a ‘chaotic shambles’.”

“G4S boss: ‘I’m Sorry’
ITN: Tue Jul 17 2012 17:27

Nick Buckles, the man in charge of beleaguered security firm G4S, insisted he was the right man to run the Olympics security contract.

The company’s chief executive has faced a Home Affairs Select Committee in Westminster over the on-going security debacle caused by G4S’ failure to deliver “as many Olympic guards as possible”.

Mr Buckles said he was “sorry and deeply disappointed” that his firm failed to meet its targets.

The scandal has resulted in the emergency deployment of soldiers and police officers and seen £400 million wiped off the market value of G4S.

There is now mounting pressure on Mr Buckles to quit his £830,000 role.”

Mr Buckles agrees security is a shambles.
The G4S chief said that his firm still planned to collect its £57 million management fee despite the ongoing Olympic security debacle.

ITV News Tue 17 Jul 2012

Nick Buckles – who insisted he was the right man to make sure the company delivered as many guards for the Games as possible – told the Home Affairs Committee:

“We’ve managed the contract and we’ve had management on the ground for two years.

We still expect to deliver a significant number of staff.”

Mr Buckles apologised and said he was deeply disappointed after the firm – which is running the £284 million contract for the London 2012 Games – failed to meet its targets.

G4S are now aiming to provide a minimum of 7,000 security guards, a long way short of the initial 15,000 promised.”

“Olympic security not compromised by G4S shortfall, says Lord CoeLondon 2012 chairman says ‘prudent and judicious’ plans have been put in place, as Jeremy Hunt refuses to criticise G4STHE GUARDIAN 

“700,000 Olympics tickets unsold.
Capacity across venues to be reduced by up to 500,000 tickets across the tournament

THE INDEPENDENT TUESDAY 17 JULY 2012

Around 700,000 Olympics tickets are yet to be sold while capacity at a number of football games has been reduced, organisers said today.

Locog said 250,000 football tickets were currently on sale while 50,000 tickets are available to buy for other sports at the moment.

In addition to this, 200,000 football tickets and 200,000 tickets for other sports are due to go on sale after being returned by Olympics committees from around the world.

Organisers said there had been around one million football tickets left but these have been cut in half by reducing capacity at stadiums.

A spokesman for Locog said: “We are planning to reduce capacity across the venues by up to 500,000 tickets across the tournament.”

On Your Marks…


…and you join us just in time for the start of the third semi final of the 110 metres hurdles for men, A few worth keeping an eye on here: in lane 1 there’s the highly regarded Himmler of South Africa; in 3, of course, we have Jocelyn Carruthers of Team GB, who recently ran the 17th quickest time for a scotsman this month and whose coach has high hopes of finishing the race; and finally watch our for Wing Ming Shiming, in lane 7, towards the left of your screen: one of the very few in the Chinese squad not to test positive for drugs this season. Should be a great race.

Over to you, Brendon: