This Eldritch Abomination, this Stygian horror, this creature from the depths of hell itself. How can I truly rate the horrors that this abominable creature has brought upon me and my household? Pretend that my star rating was actually ”” ”””” ””
In September 2010 PZ Myers asked So, now mockery is not allowed in the UK?
This was with regard to an advert banned in case it offended Catholics on the occasion of the Pope’s visit – and I do not believe that Archbishop Cranmer complained then about the terrible persecution of Antonio Federici ice-cream.
The Olympic Games isn’t a Papal visit. It bears some resemblance, but it is to be far more expensive and far more overbearing even than when George W. Bush’s minders wanted London to shut down the Underground for the day. Each city bidding to hold the Games must sign the Olympic contract before they hear if they have won the bid. The contract is huge, and Ken Livingstone joked that his lawyers had advised him not to sign it. To comply with the Olympic contract
London must designate 250 miles of dedicated traffic lanes for the exclusive use of athletes and “the Olympic Family,” including I.O.C. members, honorary members, and “such other persons as may be designated by the IOC.” (These traffic lanes are sometimes called “Zil lanes,” alluding to the Soviet-era express lanes in Moscow reserved for the politburo’s favorite limousines.) Members of the Olympic Family must also have at their disposal at least 500 air-conditioned limousines with chauffeurs wearing uniforms and caps. London must set aside, and pay for, 40,000 hotel rooms, including 1,800 four- and five-star rooms for the I.O.C. and its associates, for the entire period of the Games. London must cede to the I.O.C. the rights to all intellectual property relating to the Games, including the international trademark on the phrase “London 2012.” Although mail service and the issuance of currency are among any nation’s sovereign rights, the contract requires the British government to obtain the I.O.C.’s “prior written approval” for virtually any symbolic commemoration of the Games, including Olympic-themed postage stamps, coins, and banknotes.
Perhaps it was ever thus with the Olympics and money has always ruled, and it’s only now that we can appreciate at firsthand, up close and impersonal, just how grubby and tarnished the Olympics really are. Will that be the true legacy of these games?
Perhaps. These Games will be expensive – and while the International Olympic Committee have safeguarded their profits, they’re indifferent to what losses the host city bears – losses all of us in the UK, not just London, will bear:
One former locog member believes the I.O.C. should bear some blame for the O.D.A.’s budget travails. The host-city bid process demands detailed operational budgets for the Games, but it gives cities no incentive to use similar diligence on infrastructure costs. “They honestly don’t give a shit,” this person says, referring to the I.O.C. “It’s not going to cost them a penny. It’s all covered by the government.” The budget has kept on climbing. A recent parliamentary report put the cost of preparing for and producing the Games at $18 billion. Jack Lemley believes it will be more than $19.4 billion.
Moreover, the official budget does not include what may be hundreds of millions more in costs for municipalities, for services such as security and sanitation in various boroughs of London that will host the events held outside the Olympic Park. Nor does it include similar costs to the dozens of cities outside London where national teams will stay for several weeks of pre-Olympic training.
These hidden expenses, like the costs of infrastructure, are immaterial to the I.O.C. The I.O.C. will earn $4 billion in broadcast rights to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and the 2012 London Summer Olympics and $960 million from corporate sponsorships. Of this, the I.O.C. will contribute a mere $1.6 billion to the cost of putting on the Games. If locog’s budget predictions prove inaccurate, as the O.D.A.’s were, the British taxpayer will have to cover the losses. “Not many people are aware the government’s on the hook for the organizing committee’s losses,” the former locog member told me. “Gordon Brown wrote a letter to Jacques Rogge to say in the event that locog’s revenues are less than locog’s costs, the British government will make up the shortfalls.” To forestall criticism and publicity, he said, Brown waited to send the letter until the last possible moment—five p.m. on the day before the bid had to go to Lausanne.
What would £12.36 billion have bought in the national budget?
I walked into John Lewis at the top of the Walk the other day, and found it was stuffed with alien monsters – one-eyed things that stared at me, in an array of colours including unnecessary union jacks. Apparently these one-eyed creatures are
a means of getting taxpayers to sub up for the Games official Olympics souvenirs called Wenlock and Mandeville, complete with an official storybook backstory which you can also buy: they are
meant to be drops of steel taken “from the last huge girder of the Olympic Stadium.” Each of their faces is taken up entirely by a single eye, which is meant to be a camera lens. The packaging for the plush-toy versions of both figures explains, “My single eye is like a camera letting me record everything I see.”
These monsters aren’t even the creepiest – LOCOG have also licenced a Doctor Who style monster, a London policeman with no face but a single staring eye. Unlike most BBC monsters I think this would be even creepier when you actually saw it.
Unfortunately the Doctor Who mini-sode with Matt Smith is pretty much just Olympics advertising (but what else would have been allowed by the Olympics junta in 2012?) The Tenth Doctor lit the Olympic Flame in Fear Her, written by Matthew Graham (who said “I want to do one with monsters. They owe me monsters!“) – ah, if only he’d known what monsters were lurking in LOCOG!
Of course we can mock. We can always mock. (Carefully, since mocking too loudly is now a crime, and the police may decide to pre-emptively arrest you.) Still, the Olympic Mascots Wenlock Policeman Figurine now has 31 customer reviews on Amazon and every one a gem.
More of the things were approaching from the other end of the street. Still, the door, only twenty yards away now. But even that was too far.
They moved quickly, smoothly, surrounding him without uttering a word, closing in. A moonbeam caught one, he saw the helmet, the single, enormous eye, staring, focused, unerring. “Please,” he said, “please, I didn’t do anything… it wasn’t me, it wasn’t…” But it was too late. The circle closed, darkening, crushing, muffling his screams.
The door, briefly ajar, slammed. And then, silence.
Really, the whole thing – the one-eyed monsters being marketed to children, the creepy one-eyed police swarming over London
the Metropolitan Police confirm they will have 12,500 police on duty at peak times for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The numbers that have been released by the police are the maximum commitment reflecting the largest, and the longest operation in British police history. …a 105-day policing operation from June 4 until September 16. The logistics are mind-boggling. More than 1.8 million trips will be taken by police officers during the period, travelling to London, commuting between briefings, being deployed and returning to their Games accommodations, mostly halls of residences.
the ground-to-air missiles on tower blocks, the roads reserved for the “Olympics Family” and denied even to emergency services, the mobile steel walls to let the police cordon off streets – it would all be so much less alarming if this were a Doctor Who episode, one from the 1970s with a good script and a very limited budget and Tom Baker defeating evil with a multi-coloured scarf and a wide-eyed gaze and wild hair.
Scores of giant Olympic mascots will be stationed across London as part of a £32 million makeover in the run-up to the Games.
Eighty-four sculptures of Wenlock and Mandeville will be erected at street corners, in parks and outside Tube stations to guide tourists on walking routes.
Trust me, we need the Doctor more than ever.
But there is still 100% unofficial Olympics Poetry.
For our 2012 Olympic athletes (Brian Moses)
For Lily, Ruby, Merlin, and Sam (Roger Stevens)
This poem is nervous to begin with.
All the other poems look fit, confident,
sure they can do it,
sure they can flit through these pages
at lightning speed.
But the sound of a gun signals the off
and words run
for a moment until they collect themselves