London 2012 will be fantastic. What’s not generally understood about British humour is that it’s at its best when things are truly bloody impossible. Despite gaffes, blunders and pure farce the British will make sure London is a great Olympics.
Incidents so far:
The opening ceremony actually started in a thunderstorm. The presence of so many Mary Poppins (nobody knows what the plural of Poppins is) and their umbrellas is no longer considered a mere coincidence.
Beckham brought the Olympic torch to the stadium by boat, simultaneously avoiding parking fees and traffic.
The Queen jumping out of a helicopter had Chinese commentators speechless. Although they may have been aware that tickets for the ceremony were hard to get, they may not have expected this very practical alternative method of gaining entry. It’s quite possible the Chinese media also don’t know that the James Bond films are actually documentaries.
Mr. Bean proved Charles Darwin right, in so many ways.
A South Korean archer called Im Dong Hyun scored 699 out of a possible 700, an Olympic record. What wasn’t generally known about this gentleman until now is that he has 20% sight in one eye and 10% sight in the other. He’s actually registered as blind.
While he was doing this, a single word on the Olympic program, “un-ticketed”, led readers to believe they didn’t need tickets to the archery. A lot of “very polite and helpful people” according to one person refused entry explained to would-be spectators this wasn’t the case. It meant closed to non-participants.
The use of the word “fly”, Cockney rhyming slang meaning dead fly = sly/smart is now compulsory in media coverage.
Video coverage is restricted, bafflingly enough. I tried to get some clips from the BBC site and was told “This video is not available in your territory”. Nobody, in fact, seems to have a lot of video materials.
Westfield London provided Arabic readers with a special Arabic Olympic sign which was supposed to read “Welcome to London”. Instead, it was gibberish. Westfield, an Australian company, was contrite.
The entry of the athletes into the arena gave every fashion critic on Earth the chance to criticize everyone else. Australia played safe by wearing an updated version of its 1948 London Olympics green and white uniform, embroidered in gold with the names of Australian gold medal winners.
Missing was Doctor Who, but that’s understandable. Does anyone really want a Dalek Olympic team?
One of the better examples of the British ability to sail impeccably through impossible situations occurred in World War One. A British admiral, David Beatty, watching a few of his battle cruisers, ships the size of city block, blow up around him, and under a rain of bits of metal and incoming shells, commented to an officer called Chatfield,“…There seems to be something wrong with our damned ships today. Turn two degrees to port.”
These will be a great Olympics, mainly for unscripted reasons. Whatever the “muddling through”, London will steer through any games issues and be remembered for its wit and character.
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