Northern Mummy

General thoughts and wittering about all sorts of things

Just games (or, Why you won’t be hearing a lot about the Olympics here)

on January 14, 2012

Hello, Happy New Year!

The Christmas holidays are out of the way, school has started back, the decorations are all stowed away in the loft and 2012 is in full swing.  Lots of things are happening this year, including:

1. We are having a new showed fitted (after almost a year of not having one).  We have been measured, quoted and surveyed and hopefully the fitting should take place within 4 to 6 weeks.  For me this currently the most exciting thing to be happening in 2012.

2. It will be our 15th wedding anniversary in August.  That’s crystal.  I’m not a huge fan of crystal so we probably won’t do traditional presents but I’m hoping we’ll celebrate with something nice as it seems like quite a lot.  In 2000 we made an agreement always to take a day’s leave on our anniversary, after that year (our 3rd) we’d decided to work and then go our in the evening.  I had the most boring day imaginable (I worked in a school at the time and it was the summer holidays so very quiet and not much to do besides tidying up) whilst my husband was sent to London for the day at the last minute.  He got stuck there as he was low priority on the flights (he works for an airline and was very junior at the time) and didn’t end up getting back until about midnight.  So now we don’t take the risk.  Since we’ve had the girls they obviously are part of the day, being on holiday from school, and sometimes we do move it and celebrate on a different day but I’m hoping we’ll be able to do it properly this year.  I’d have a party but a) we have a bad history with parties, people tend not to come or agree to come and then get ill/snowed in/a better offer. We organised a millennium party and invited about 40 people and literally nobody came! b) almost all our friends have been married longer than us and would probably not think 15 years much of an achievement.

3. It’s the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.  I think this is HUGE.  She has managed to stay alive long enough to be Queen for 60 years – longer than many people are married, certainly longer than most people do their job (admittedly, even in the current climate of delayed pensions, most people are encouraged to retire before they reach the age of  85 but she is still actively doing her job, for all that).  This is only the second time we have had a monarch on the throne for this long so I think it’s pretty special.  I shall probably say more on this subject nearer the time.

4. … and loads of other things, of course.

However, if you listen to a lot of people, only one thing (of any importance) would appear to be happening in Britain this year, and that is the Olympic Games.  Or “London 2012” as it seems to have become known.  And I for one am already utterly fed up with hearing about them.

I was going to start my explanation by saying that I have nothing against the Olympic Games being hosted in London, but that isn’t entirely true.  I can’t get past the fact that they have been very expensive.  I have read that altogether the event is estimated to cost £7.2 billion.  I’m not one of these people who go around talking about “the tax payer” footing the bill for things – I accept that we pay our taxes and the money is then no longer ours, but the government’s.  But what I do see is that a lot of money was spent on the bid for getting the Olympics here, and a lot more has been spent and is being spent on the preparations for the event.  “But,” people say, “it will help a lot of people in the long term, because it encourages tourism – and London’s transport network needed a lot of work doing anyway.”  And I’m sure both of those things are true, except that in the meantime we don’t have enough nurses in hospitals, and people are losing their jobs all over the place, and there are still thousands living on the streets.  And I’ve been to London and to be honest I found their public transport as good as, if not better than, other places in the UK.

So I’d rather the money was spent in other ways, but it’s not and I accept that.  A more on-going gripe about the Olympics is the sweeping assumption that we’re all going to be very excited about it, no matter who we are or whereabouts in the country we live.  Now I know that lots of people like sport, and they enjoy watching other people doing it as much as they enjoy doing it themselves (more, in some cases).  I, like plenty of others, do not.  I’m not a sporty person, my fitness is maintained largely by walking everywhere – often very fast as I’m usually late – and the occasional pilates session when I get the chance.  As for watching people play sport, it’s just not my thing, I’d rather read a book or something.  Most of the time people tolerate this fairly common attitude in a live-and-let-live sort of way, but for some reason, because the Olympics are taking place a mere 300 mile drive from where I live, I’m now expected to become uncharacteristically enthusiastic about sport.  This expectation that my interests will change to such a degree is something I find quite bizarre.  Several people asked me last year if I had applied for tickets.  When I replied (quite reasonably, I thought) “No, I don’t really like watching sport,” they looked confused and then said “But it’s the Olympics!” as if that was supposed to make a difference.  It’s still sport!  Yes, the participants are likely to be “Faster, Higher, Stronger” than the ones we might usually see, but they’ll still be doing the same things.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m really glad that the people who are interested in seeing them are going to get the chance to go without having to travel quite so far, but I don’t see why it’s so weird that I don’t want to be amongst them.

Another thing I resent, probably because I’m a non-sporty person, is the argument that “the Olympics have made sport more accessible to people”.  I don’t really understand this properly, although my friends keep telling me it’s true.  I think what it must mean is that because we are hosting the Olympics, authorities have taken the opportunity to tie in programmes to encourage sport amongst the general population.  If so, I’m unimpressed.  If it’s so important to promote sport then it should have been being done regardless of the Olympics.  And I’m not sure it is that important anyway.  If you have a budget to promote what is essentially a hobby, why choose that one over all the rest?  Most people have to pay to pursue their hobbies because they’re only partially subsidised, if at all – the days of my free music lessons at school are long gone, for example – so why should sport get all the attention?  Because it keeps us fit?  I don’t really buy that because it’s perfectly possible to keep fit for free, without equipment or coaching.  Where is the funding for teaching children to sing or draw or act?

My final, and probably main, problem is the one I alluded to at the beginning, that people have become so worked up about it that it’s as if nothing else were happening this year.  I heard this morning of a designer who is showing at a trade fair this week.  She had created some products especially for this event (which is in London) but has been told that she must not write “London 2012” on them, because of Olympic licensing regulations.  I find this utterly unreasonable.  London is London – it’s a place in this country where many different things take place.  2012 is the year we’re all living in at the moment.  But she must not describe her current geographical and temporal situation on her products because it’s being used to express the concept of The Games of the XXX Olympiad.  And this is the attitude that some people have taken, as though there were nothing else in life worth thinking about.

So, sorry for moaning and ranting a bit but it’s good to get that off my chest.  I can’t be the only person to feel like this, surely?  There are plenty of fun things to look forward to in 2012 and if that includes the Olympics for you, great.  But don’t forget it’s not the only thing, and don’t assume we all feel the same.  I’m looking forward to when it’s all over.  (But that’s because my wedding anniversary falls 2 days after the closing ceremony!)

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