Sorry, due to unforeseen circumstances this week's blog has to come from the vaults. As the Olympics are due to start next Friday, I thought I'd go with that theme. This is from July last year. Next week I'll blog about what's happening now - terrible weather, gridlocked traffic, Stalinist messages from the 'night' Mayor and all.
In exactly one year's time London will be agog and a go-go. That's right, the London Olympics 2012 start next year and there's been much preview and prediction in this week's media, as well as a fair bit of doom-mongering. How will our antiquated transport system cope? Is it really worth the cash? Who will report on it if all our journalists are in jail for phone hacking? And who the hell cares about women's weightlifting anyway?
Well, in answer to the latter, I do. Because it's the only event I managed to get tickets for. I'll try and explain how the tickets were allocated, but feel free to go away halfway through and pour yourself a stiff drink, or smash yourself in the face with a baseball bat if you want to. It's pretty tortuous.
Right. First of all people were asked to apply for the events they wanted on the dates they wanted. The tickets for each event were split into categories and divided by price. Presumably the higher the price, the better the seat. If you paid £1000 for the archery you were there, right next to the target. You could apply for as many tickets and events as possible. The only requirement was that you had enough cash on your credit card (which had to be Visa, the official credit card of the blah blah blah). Once your requests were submitted you had to sit and wait and see how you did. It was a lottery. And we all know the problem with lotteries - they're a bloody lottery.
I applied for a heck of alot of swimming and athletics tickets. Being a tightfisted northerner, I applied in the lower priced categories. The cynic in me told the better angel of my being that this meant I wouldn't get any tickets. The cynic was right. I got nothing. Most people I know who went for the lower priced tickets got nothing too. The ones who forked out more seemed to be more successful. Funny that. We also haven't been told how many tickets have gone to sponsors and corporate buyers. The cynic in me, who really needs to shut up and get a life, thinks it'll be very many.
But there was no need to despair. Those of us who missed out were given a second chance - a delightfully named Losers Ballot, aka get you hand in your pocket and pay over the odds for horse dancing ballot. On a specified date, a tranche of tickets would be made available. By the time I got online on the specified date there was a choice between weightlifting and dwarf-tossing. I was going to give up but my kids were desperate to go. I put in a ludicrously overpriced bid for some women's weightlifting. Oddly enough, and I can't fathom why, I 'won' those tickets. The kids were ecstatic. What's weightlifting, my daughter asked when she calmed down? It involves people lifting big weights above their head, cloaked in the suspicion they've taken performance enhancing drugs, I replied (I left off the last bit.) Son and daughter both punched the air. 'That sounds wicked,' my son said, and he meant it. For a few delightful seconds I was swept along by their enthusiasm. We would be able to savour that unique Olympic atmosphere. Then I thought of the credit card bill. And the weightlifting...the only things I lift these days are a knife and fork.
The 2012 Olympics are being heralded as a chance to enthuse the nation's youth. A lasting legacy of sporting health and achievement. This morning I saw my oldest son lift my youngest over his head with a fine clean and jerk. I have done my bit. The next generation is safe.
Dan - Friday