Enjoying a front row seat at Wednesday’s main feature, Attack of the Purple Condoms (cert.18, dir. Roger Corman), must have been a genuinely horrifying
experience for our honourable representatives in the House of Commons. The Daily Mirror’s Paul Routledge described the scene in detail, referring to the
perpetrator throughout as a ‘nutter’ and declining to name the organisation the said nutter was attempting to promote. Paul made the point that irresponsible
behaviour shouldn’t benefit those in pursuit of publicity.
Of course there’s a line somewhere (even if it shifts now and then in the political wind) and no PR would condone Fathers 4 Justice‘s action, but the
passion of the affair was in stark contrast to the flat-footed incompetence going on down the road at the London Olympic bid. ‘Can’tsini’, as one tabloid called
her, ‘stepped aside’ from the top job the day after it became clear that our capital city was currently lying in third place behind Paris and Madrid. But at least we beat Havana. Whew. Sebastian Coe, whose last major campaigning role as William Hague’s major-domo is probably best forgotten, has now been handed a chalice awash with poison and other banned substances.
The worry is that London, dear old thing, hasn’t yet grasped the true fabulousness of the Olympic ideal. That its citizens are somehow apathetic to the thrill of spending untold zillions of their council tax pounds building long-jump pits and multi-storey car parks, only to watch British athletes win a
handful of bronze medals. Why should they think otherwise? The benefits of hosting an Olympic Games or a World Cup to a first division country such as
ours are not nearly as great as they would be to a Cuba, a Brazil or even a Greece. We hardly need the publicity.
For a generation, since Munich, the word Olympics’ has been synonymous with international politics at its most secretive. The image of the Franco-like Dr. Juan Antonio Samaranch and his lackeys wearing shades and knocking back Chivas Regal at the front of the plane is a hard one to dispel, even if current IOC president Jacques Rogge is doing his best.
But behind the green baize doors of sport’s inner sanctum is where Coe must now set out his stall. Precisely which business interests operate there, and
on what political basis decisions are reached, and just how Catholic and misogynistic the whole movement is, remain unanswered questions. Indeed, like the election of a pope or the way Tory Party leaders used to ‘emerge’, the whole process of being ’awarded’ a summer or winter Games is as cloudy and unmentionable as a dodgy urine sample.
For the London bid to stand a chance it’ll have to grasp the nettle, get passionate, pull some memorable stunts, and start selling itself to the British public as a whole – a much, much harder job since devolution, since decentralisation has played merry hell with the perception of London being the
all-powerful centre of the universe.
Meanwhile, both on Mount Olympus and down here, Lord Coe’s appointment must be considered a definite plus. But the very guts and determination which made him so glorious a ‘Chariots of Fire’ athlete, and which we hope will let London outpace the competition, pull on the same heartstrings as those which led the (from his point of view) desperately-wronged condom-chucker to the Strangers’ Gallery and thence into the footnotes of history this week. It’s the
combination of passion and application which makes champions of us all when the chips are down.