"You may say that I am a dreamer/But I am not the only one" John Lennon: "Imagine"

"So come brothers and sisters/For the struggle carries on" Billy Bragg: "The Internationale"

Elizannie has a reading room at 'Clarice's Book Page' http://www.villiersroad.blogspot.com/

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Olympic dreams and reality

Honestly, I really was trying to be optimistic about the Olympics. I was excited when our bid succeeded, imagining jobs and contracts for workers in this country - which sadly did not pan out as expected. Please believe I really am not an Olympic Scrooge. Ah well.

I hoped that the Corporate Sponsorship would mean that the tax payer [income, council - both local and county council levels] would not have to dig into his/her pocket - or if money was required it would be as an investment for 'legacy' projects and 'trickle down' and improve local economies.

I loved the idea that the spirit of the games would enthuse our citizens, that young people would perhaps get the idea that sports were something that could be enjoyed in reality and not just played on Xpensive electronic gadgets - at the local park, say. Too many school playing fields have been sold off over the past few years to help pay for necessities within those same schools. And the idea that there would be some 'free' spectacles such as road races that might be passing near to our homes was exciting.

The promises of the 'Cultural Olympics' seemed good to those like me who would rather participate in a pen and paper game that one holding some sort of stick or ball.

It is a shame so far that the weather is being a bit British, but hey ho that's life and we can still all have a good time!


I really don't want to do this, however there is a big but. Or a lot of small buts, medium size buts, all adding up to a rather massive but. Read on...

We won't talk about G4S, although seeing the tents ready for the army to camp out on the downs near here preparatory for the Mountain Biking events is a bit reminiscent of WW11 [no cheeky, I wasn't born then, but I have seen postcards!]

And at the awful traffic chaos which is Sadler's Farm Roundabout Improvements which had 'nothing to do with the Olympics' last year and should have been finished in March, is still not completed and it has been announced today that they will not be completed now before the Olympics which is causing some concern to the OAC. Of course the Essex County Council rate payer foots this bill. [And massive commiserations to all the commuters for the hours lost in all the traffic jams, night and day, since the works started. And all the local businesses which have lost money due to prospective clients being unable to reach them]

I was looking at an 1801 map of the area at the weekend, and it looked oh so peaceful then!

Another aspect to the Sadlers Farm debacle is that the junction leads directly to the nearest of the Park & Ride Carparks to the Hadleigh Mountain biking site. Allegedly due to water logging, this site has now been declared unusable, meanwhile most of the other three sites parking space tickets have been sold. Sadly more council-tax payers' money sailing up Benfleet Creek.

[And in case you all think I am being a bit of a NIMBY, we were in Cornwall recently and saw an area around a community which was in dire need of a road improvement scheme which had been passed and was all set to go until a nearby Olympic event venue popped up and the allocated money switched to building a road for that instead. I am sure there are similar tales around the country]

Luckily the torch relay around the country has been funded by corporate sponsorship and whether or not one is in favour of fast food and drinks sponsoring 'healthy games' it must be acknowledged that without this sponsorship not only the torch relay but the whole games would not be possible. However all the Official flags, bunting etc has to be bought by the local authorities themselves - at a cost - guess what - to the local tax payer. [I believe each flag costs in the region of £200+] And in our own are a club for disabled people has been closed due to lack of funding. Surely this would have been a better investment and Olympic legacy than the flags and bunting?

Meanwhile, not far from here an Essex town had 'organised a series of bunting making workshops across the borough to help local community groups make flags to line the route' [please read all about it in the link] It's a shame that more towns and villages didn't take a more do-it-yourself route to decorations. Those who know me know I love a bit of home made decorations [although sometimes it is to the embarrassment of others] And Other Half has been known on many occasions to paint the garage door with a message when something special has happened: football team winning at Wembley; birth of a baby; degree results et al!

Those who live reasonably near some of the road races have been told to stay at home and watch the events on TV which seems a bit of a reversal of the ideals. Road closures in a wide circumference from around 3am in the morning of such events means that if one is not within walking distance it will be impossible to get near the events, which is an awful shame. As I type yet another advert on the radio is pumping out this message.

I am very glad that there has been the Cultural Olympiad idea but - and here I sound really grumbly - the fact that so much of it has been concentrated around the capital is a bit of a drawback, and here I go into real Grinch/Scrooge mode [depending on your popular culture tastes] and suggest that not enough is being made of the events all around the country and a little more media advertising might help. So here's a link: http://www.london2012.com/about-us/cultural-olympiad/

I am not all grumbles, honestly. Lots of schools and organisations have had Olympic celebrations, we had a lovely afternoon last week at some of our grandchildren's school where all children got awards for taking part in an Olympic week. Lots of community fun where the torch has travelled. There is still time to pull together and make the games a really happy time. And look at the positives. And we can outface the weather - we are Brits!!

The picture above is of of a 1948 3d stamp celebrating the Olympic games. Just because I like it!

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