I AM CURRENTLY enjoying a lovely summer in France, far away from rain-lashed Scotland. I have been regaled with the weather stories from all our holiday visitors who assure me this has been the worst summer in living memory. Watching the Queen's jubilee and the subsequent Olympics, where some athletes have not only had to contend with winning medals but battle against wind and rain, I was glad to be watching it on the television and not enduring the elements after having paid a small fortune for a ticket.
Having many friends who tried, most unsuccessfully, to buy tickets, it is particularly galling to see the empty seats and the black marketeers making a small fortune out of much sought-after tickets.
The opening ceremony I thought had to be applauded for trying to be different from all the other opening ceremonies and the James Bond sketch involving the Her Majesty was masterly and allowed us to see our Queen has a sense of humour. The Rowan Atkinson sketch was British humour at its best, a simple idea showing the sometimes pomposity of musicians.
My criticism was in the late start of the ceremony that by the time the teams paraded out I deserved a gold medal myself for keeping awake.
The informality of the teams that straddled the parade began to irritate as the members themselves took photographs and talked on mobile phones. The British team screamed into the various cameras on route – and as it was revealed that a good part of the British team were not even there as it had been decided to keep them in Portugal to avoid any distraction by all the frivolities – it all seemed a bit pointless to me.
These athletes train for years to qualify for the Olympics and the thought that attending the opening ceremony would somehow make them less competitive is laughable. The ethos of the games was in my opinion brought into disrepute by that decision, as an athlete who is representing his or her country should be proud to march as a team.
Of course there were the usual cock-ups such as the wrong Korean flag being flown which nearly caused a diplomatic incident and some unknown woman who marched in front of the Indian delegation with no-one questioning who she was. It turned out she was a cast member who had been involved in the opening ceremony and, having got carried away, decided to include herself in the parade. All good stuff and at least she felt it was an honour to march with her countrymen unlike some of the British athletes.
The highlight of the games for me so far was the wonderful tennis final in which Murray at last showed what his tenacity and brilliance could achieve in obtaining an Olympic gold medal; the fact he is a fellow Scot had my family screaming with joy at the end as I suspect was most of Scotland.
London has not, as the critics foresaw, ground to a standstill but central London is now complaining that visitors are staying away with empty streets, bars, cafes and restaurants. The usual tourists attractions are not being visited and taxi drivers are complaining of a drop in profits. Where I wonder is the huge financial advantage in hosting the games ? Not it would seem in London.
To win a medal is still deemed the highest accolade an athlete can achieve and rightly so but the commerciality that now surrounds the modern Olympics is in danger of eclipsing the ethos of the games no more so than the hype of each country doing a better opening ceremony than the country before it. Where will it all end I wonder, the 2016 games hosting the opening ceremony on the moon with Olympic tiddlywinks winks now included? It might be worth a bet or two.