Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Yes! I'm a loser!

Well if this weekend's sporting action didn't make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck and have you leaping from the sofa, punching the air shouting, 'BY GOD I WILL BE AT THAT OLYMPIC STADIUM THIS SUMMER, EVEN IF I HAVE TO GET NAKED AND ARRESTED IN THE PROCESS...' then you have no business here. Book your trip abroad now and get ye gone from the country's over-burdened transport system.

So joyous was I to watch an afternoon of sheer sporting excellence (marred only by Arsenal's dismal FA Cup kicking), that I couldn't help feeling uplifted and inspired by these impressive athletes. Well done to all the competitors and thank you for providing so much entertainment: Mo Farah, Jess Ennis, Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton, Joanna Rowsell, Jess Varnish, Shara Proctor, Robbie Grabarz, Hannah England, Holly Bleasdale and more – not to mention all the outstanding international athletes from around the world. I recommend YouTube-ing Tianna Madison's 60m run – she is outstanding.

And just as I thought things couldn't get better: yesterday's Evening Standard headline. Yes, I thought! I am a loser!!! Maybe I will go to the ball, cinders. Yet, upon reading the article, I am still as baffled as ever by the twists and turns taken by the ticketing professionals. Can't I just ring up and ask for the ones I want? No? Oh technology, you're sooo clever. Lord Coe says I could still be there. But I have to pick the tickets with the least demand or be incredibly clever. And that's if the website doesn't crash. So it seems that once again, we're subjected to the forces of nature and I'll have as much chance of winning this weekend's lottery by all accounts. If only I worked in local government methinks. But it's too late for that.

So you with tickets out there; you lucky, lucky people. Enjoy every minute. I beseech thee.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

It's a Doozy

Baroness Doocey has an amazing name. I don’t mean reputation – I don’t know enough about that I’m afraid, but I will be researching her a little bit more, if only to find out how I can get such a cool title. All I know is that she is lobbying LOCOG to find out exactly how many Olympics tickets have been sold and at what price.

The sale of Olympics tickets is up there with the other great state secrets of our time – we’ll probably find out in years to come that a time capsule has been buried at great expense to the public, with all the answers she is looking for. Not to be opened until 3012. Or we might just find out later this week…

I was less sure of the recent Dispatches programme on Channel 4 this week, looking at whether dodgy dealings were afoot handling Olympics hospitality contracts. I felt the programme didn’t come to any real conclusions (Baroness D was on this as well), and simply left a negative feeling towards the Olympics that no one could quite put their finger on. ‘We think it’s all dodgy, so it probably is…’. But maybe I just wasn’t paying careful enough attention. The newspapers didn’t run with anything, so I assume everyone agreed with this prognosis. My other half says, ‘Well, she is a Lib Dem, so she’s going to be negative about the Olympics, isn’t she?’

My point? Rumour, scaremongering and negativity are rife just 200 days before the Olympics begin. It’s a hard tide to swim against.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Lord Coe, you were a baby once too!

Right, well I can’t believe I’ve overlooked this but it’s time I mixed my messages I’m afraid. So a couple of weeks ago, there was a huge outcry over whether babies who had been conceived once their parents had successfully applied last year for Olympics tickets, should be able to attend events with their parents. I am due to give birth this summer, so you might think I’m naturally biased about this. However, I don’t have tickets, so it isn’t an issue for me.

But I have found that many people – albeit often our parents’ generation, – do not realise how difficult it is for working parents with small children financially and logistically. And can I add, mentally? Because the former definitely have an effect on the latter. It’s just not spoken about. You might see it manifest itself in the divorce rate of course. But many families have no option but to make ends meet. After all, their children come first. However, I do know someone (my parents’ age) who was at the Priory after a mental breakdown and she was shocked to see how many working mothers were there. They’d literally had their BlackBerries prised from their hands upon entry in the wake of a ‘but I can juggle everything!’ meltdown.

Just last week I attended a two year old’s birthday party and his grandmother was shocked when I explained that, even as a self-employed person, if I don’t work, I still have to pay for childcare. She was even more taken aback when I explained that if your child is sick and needs a week off, you still have to pay. Or if you go on holiday, yes, you guessed it.

My monthly childcare is more than my mortgage. This is not for a full-time week either. I do not live in a suburb of London. Many people turn to grandparents to help with this issue. Not everyone can. And few grandparents would be happy looking after a breastfeeding baby. Not to mention how the mother might feel about having to leave their child so they can attend an Olympic event. It just wouldn’t be an option (probably – obviously I can't speak for everyone!).

Actually, I bridled when I saw ‘expert’ Katie ‘I was on the Apprentice once’ Hopkins, talking about how parents should have to leave their babies behind on BBC Breakfast. How lovely to be so cold about this issue. Or sad. Many parents would put their child ahead of an afternoon of sporting entertainment – even if it is the greatest sporting event in the world coming to our country for a once-in-a-generation opportunity. But isn’t that very sad too? In fact, that’s exactly what it is; a sad indictment of our times. The thought that ‘if you have children, it’s your fault’, seems to be prevalent in society these days. Nevermind the fact that we’re bringing the next tax-paying generation into the world. The next generation of sportsmen and women.

All I know is, in an ideal world, I’d have tickets and I’d take my baby with me. And if they cried or became a nuisance (as Katie H suggested), I’d leave until I’d settled them again. Unless of course, it was rowing or canoeing, because when I attended that in Sydney, it was a big cheering mass of happy people bonding from all over the world – young and old. No Katie Hopkins there.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

How do I look?

Stella McCartney is due to stage her first London show in 16 years at London Fashion Week later this month. It’s expected to be inspired by the London Olympics and is hoped to inject a touch of glamour into the run up to the games. As Creative Director of Adidas’ Team GB Olympics kit, McCartney is no stranger to sport and has been working with the global sportswear firm since 2004.

Let’s hope the athletes look slightly smarter than previous Opening Ceremonies. At Sydney, their outfits were designed by Marks & Spencer and paled into insignificance compared with other nations. As you’ll see from my previous Sydney diary post, the Opening Ceremony not only showcases countries of the world, but it is also an exciting evening for the athletes before the serious competition begins. So let’s send them out with their heads held high. Come on Stella, show us what you’re made of! (Less Beatles, more Rolling Stones please…)

Diary entry from Sydney 2000 Opening Ceremony

Well, the crowd was huge: 100,000 people and 3.7 billion watching on TV. The biggest peacetime event. But in our little corner, you only saw the media boxes and VIP bit in front of us and it was easy to relax and it wasn’t until you looked over your shoulder that you realised what was behind; a sea of people, torches glowing. And when they cheered, you couldn’t help but be affected. The defining moment for me was when Australia came on: the roar from the crowd pricked your senses, you watched and admired the huge team as they took in the view walking past you. I could smell the athletes they were so close; body cologne and aftershaves from all around the world. Wow. Not to mention the third time I’ve seen Pat Rafter this week – I swear he’s stalking me! (Sorry, got distracted, a couple of Coogee lifeguards just walked past…!)

Anyway, when Team GB walked past, I don’t think I recognised one of them! The track and field team weren’t there and it was kind of disappointing. They were all dressed in tracksuit tops; men in blue, women in white, and all mashed in together. Not particularly eye catching at all. Not smart and chic like some of the other teams. Notably, Italy in navy blue blazers and each athlete had a different colour of trousers on – red, yellow, green and blue – it was great. The Dutch looked good too in their orange blazers and so did the African countries. Swaziland was cool as they did an African dance on their way round. Mongolia had what looked like a sumo wrestler carrying their flag and he was dressed like one too! Japan was wearing coloured kite/cape type things on their backs. Canada looked good in their beach hats. Yep, it was lovely. So then India and Italy were behind us and the atmosphere was wicked. Golly, my hand is hurting from writing; I’ve got to stop for a bit!!! All too exciting for words.