Friday, 27 July 2012

I'm Going For Gold

So, the London Olympics begin today. I'm looking forward to watching the opening ceremony on TV and heading to London tomorrow to see some events over the weekend. With my unsponsored packed lunch!

What you don't realise is that I'm also taking part. I'm proudly representing my country in the heavyweight category of the How About You All Stop Carping? competition. This is a little-known sport but the rules are this: every time you hear someone being cynical or disparaging of the achievements and hopes of others, you get one point for rolling your eyes, two points for yawning, five points for temporarily blocking them on Twitter (with a conversion giving two extra points if you also hide their Facebook updates) and a whopping ten points for writing a blogpost on the subject. I'm going for gold.

I was pretty ashamed earlier this week to read this article in the NYT. Is this really how others see us? How embarrassing. I plan to fight it. I may be crabbit, and that may mean I’m often grumpy but it does not mean I’m negative or mean-spirited. I see I have competition from the Guardian, where there was an excellent piece today which probably guarantees them a place in the final of the How About You All Stop Carping? comp. I was also delighted by the BBC coverage at lunch today, both the UK news and the Scottish one. No carping there, not a spot of it.

It strikes me that those who take such pleasure in focusing gleefully on any mistakes that are made (or that they expect to be made) are usually those who not only couldn't organise the proverbial piss-up but wouldn't even get off their backsides to try. They tend to be those who don't join organising committees, don't get involved in community activities, don't attempt difficult things. They don't have time because they are too busy disparaging the efforts of others. And that is time-consuming; it also drains the ambition and creativity out of you.

I've loved to bits the wonderful sitcom, Twenty Twelve. And some of the truths they've parodied are real things to discuss and criticize. And yes, some of the things that have been mirrored by reality have been brilliant. The buses getting lost because the drivers had never been to London, for example, hilariously mirrored the first episode. No, I'm not saying we can't laugh when ridiculous things happen or are said or done. I loved the Orwell quote in the Guardian article - when asked why Britain doesn't have the goose-step: because people would laugh.

But there's laughing when something silly goes wrong and then learning from it. (I'm sure whoever showed the wrong Korean flag has learnt from it...) And then there's sneering in advance and doing sod all about it except carrying on sneering and looking out for more and more things to sneer about.

To be clear: I'm not saying you shouldn't complain when things are done badly or that you shouldn't argue against something happening if you think it shouldn't happen. Begin against something or criticising mediocrity is fine; it's the mean-spirited, lazy, dour-faced carping and sneering while doing so that is what I'm on about.

Yes, so, some people who hate sport will become sick of the focus on something they find boring. Some people who work in London or one of the other venues may have their journeys to work affected for three weeks. Yes, drivers in London may well be irritated by the Olympic lanes. And the issue of not being allowed to eat unsponsored crisps or wear unsponsored clothes (let's see, shall we?) is an important one, and one we can fairly argue about.

Yes, it's has cost a lot of money. Things that are worth doing often do, and they are worth doing well.

Yes, we are in very difficult economic times, and spending a lot of money may seem like the wrong thing to do. But sometimes spending money on something special and luxurious rather than boring and essential is a right thing to do. Uplifting, exciting, worthwhile.

To all the athletes who have sacrificed and achieved so much to be selected, and the athletes who have worked so hard and been unlucky enough just to miss selection, to all the thousands of people involved in organising, planning and delivering these games, those in the public eye and those behind the scenes, you have my admiration, all of you. Whatever happens. None of the sneerers could have done what you've done. They are far too ensconced in their comfy sofas, throwing popcorn and spitting pips from the lemons they've just been sucking.

21 comments:

  1. Couldn't have put it better myself. Hope you win GOLD!

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  2. So agree - I'm with you in the non-carping corner (as long as I can have a little snigger at Mitt Romney?)

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  3. Well if I haven't already been blocked on Twitter (don't have a FB a/c) and thrown out of the Crabbit establishment for creating the Breaking News tweets (which were quite funny) I'll put my hand up and admit that I'm bored rigid by sport and opting out. Not throwing things, just making sure my TV and radio are turned off so I don't get irritated by the constant coverage. I get the same with football. I have long ago realised that I'm in a minority & if I ever meet someone who has excelled in sport I'll be enthusiastic with them. Otherwise I'll just do what I did at school, skip games and go off to take my horse out for a quiet hack.

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  4. I think that's a perfect solution. I did the equivalent with the royal wedding, which also bored me rigid. I certainly don't think everyone *should* be interested or positive, just that there's a level of snipiness about a lot of the reaction. Which you have not shown!

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    1. There does seem to be a "snarking on principle" group who are determined not to like anything. I understand all about the economics, NHS etc but there are others who just love showing off how clever their put-downs are.
      But not the Breaking News tweets which are written by a comedy-writing duo I know.

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  5. I'll admit I wasn't a fan at the beginning, and had concerns about the cost etc...but there's no point in complaining about something that's happening anyway and that which people have put a huge amount of effort into.
    However, I've caught the Olympic bug and I'm looking forward to it! I liked the Guardian article that pointed out how important this is to the Athletes, those who've trained and worked so hard for this moment. I won't watch everything, not interested, but I will certainly cheer for those who are competing in their field...and going all out to be the best they can!

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    1. Yes, and I'm also thinking of the athletes who have trained and trained but didn't make selection, especially those in the disciplines that are most fiercely popular and therefore hard to win at. I know someone who missed section and my heart goes out to him and others. Must be very tough.

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  6. Nicola, I agree. It's not 'cool' to affect disinterest and to moan, complain and snipe at the efforts of others. It's an honour and a hard-won prize for this country to host the Olympics and I'm sick of the whingers. If you don't like sport and you're not proud to be British then fine - it's only 2 weeks, so keep your tele' turned off and your mouth shut, please! Many of us are enjoying it and looking forward to it. I'm lucky enough to have tickets for the athletics next weekend. Bring it on!! Helen

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  7. I plan on going for the gold. You've hooked me. And I plan on putting a link to this on my blog. It's a great sport you've invented.

    As for the Olympics themselves, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool fanatic. I love it all. I watch from sunup to sundown. I tape everything and then watch it late into the night. Life is good when the Olympics are one. I find hope and joy as I watch the athletes. I love seeing a city I'll probably never get to visit. I love the architecture. Here in the States, we've got concrete and glass. There you have beauty for the eye. I love it. Life is good.

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  8. Hooray! And the opening ceremony was awesome, I thought. Very quirky, creative, original and all that I love about being British.

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  9. I'm going to claim a big chocolate gold coin already in this competition. Why? Because I DID watch the opening ceremony from the James Bond spoof and I was on Twitter AND I didn't respond to any of the carping. So there!
    Not a medal- but a chocolate penny?

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  10. I'll admit to not having a sporty bone in my body.

    But I am filled with admiration for the Olympic athletes, their pride in representing their country, and the whole vision of involvement and legacy that has been built into London 2012.

    The opening ceremony was awesome (though I could have done without Hey Jude. Again. Is that carping?). I loved the 'Britishness' of it, and my highlight was the crucible - a truly symbolic coming-together of the nations.

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  11. And whoda thunk that Children's Literature would have had such a prominent spot in an Olympic Opening ceremony? I love the Olympics... sport... endless chat about sport... inspiring ME to do sport... and getting back a sense of wonder.

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  12. Well said Nicola.

    Loved the opening ceremony. Looking forward to seeing how many medals Team GB get. One great thing about the Olympics is turning on the TV to find some new sport you've never watched before on, and quickly getting involved in it. I was hooked on the Beach Volleyball yesterday, and right now there's some white-water canoeing going on...

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  13. Well said! I've been infuriated by people wishing failure on the Olympics from before we even knew we were hosting it. Why should people think we were even more likely to fail than the Greeks? I went to the Athens Olympics and despite all predicitons of failure it was superb. We will (are) doing the same in London. This time I'm one of the volunteers, and I'm proud and thrilled to be doing it - and I fully expect the whole Olympics to be a great success.
    (Holds certain fingers up to critics...)

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  14. Thanks, everyone. I'm back from London now and will blog a bit about it later this week, but I loved going to the volleyball. Great atmosphere, very well-organised and incredibly wonderful volunteers showing everyone where to go.

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