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Yorkshire Blue

Super Moderator
Staff member
Oct 27, 2003
I went along this afternoon to see the Olympic Flame pass through our nation's fine capital. I for one, am excited about the prospect of the Olympics coming to Britain in 4 years time.

For me there is something special about the Olympics going all the way back to its roots in Ancient Greece. An event for which all wars ceased, an event for which all participants and spectators were given free passage there and back.

Instead of this celebration of the best of humanity, the event was hi-jacked by a handful of tree-huggers and I was frightened to do so much as light a match in case I was jumped on by some do-gooders armed with a fire extinguisher.

It made the event something of an anti-climax, instead of being able to reach out and pat on the back the bearer of the symbol, spectators waving their Olympic and Chinese flags were held back, with the bearer of this sacred flame that has burnt since 1928, obscured from view by the phalanx - who says the Olympic Torch organisers weren't keeping true to its Ancient Greek origins - of police officers, sinisterly dressed in black, running alongside.

I had read that the flame was supposed to be transported by bus at this point - ridiculously the flame was to be transported on foot, by bus, DLR, river etc to show off London's transport connections, which smacks of Red Ken - but I noticed that the bus following the flame was not a bendy bus despite the fact that it was only bendy buses which normally run along that route. 1-0 Boris obviously.

However there was more to view than just a torch being whisked past, as we were treated to some local school kids doing some ethnic dancing (no matter where you go in the world, ethnic dancing looks all the same, its amazing how cultures thousands of miles and oceans apart could come up with such similar yet boring routines - just wearing a brightly coloured costume does not make it interesting) and a large mechanical Chinese Tiger (sort of similar to the dragons they have at Chinese New Year, but seemingly constructed out of one of the market stalls that normally line the route) and Emperor on stilts routine. Apparently tigers aren't quite yet extinct in China. I checked and the tiger didn't appear to have a knob. No doubt cut off by poachers to be used as an aphrodisiac sold on the black market. Poor tiger, on another day it would have been animal rights protesters protesting and he might have been protected and still had his manhood entact.

Fortunately as it passed through the East End my faith in humanity was restored when the locals come out from a nearby boozer, pint in hand, to applaud the Olympic flame. When a couple of demonstrators started trying to politicise this non-political celebration of humanity, by shouting slogans and waving their flags, a handful of locals responded by telling them to **** off and aiming certain hand-signals - probably as old as the original Olympics at them - at the protesters.

Of course if you had been watching the blanket coverage on News 24 or some other rolling "news" channel, you'd probably be unaware that the Olympic flame was interrupting the Free-Tibet rally that is dominating the news, or that the majority were supporting the Olympics rather than protesting at China. Indeed, there were a surprising number of China flags being waved as it passed through the predominantly Bangladeshi community that I live in.

There is a certain irony though the politicisation of a non-political sporting celebration by the BBC, a organisation who seeks to de-politicise its own political coverage, eg having the last budget analysed by Jade Goody. Heavens knows what Vanessa Feltz and Colin Jackson (or whatever heavyweight pundits they had on the case) would have made of it back in the studio during their in-depth political analysis of the Tibetan situation. I hope the point they were forcefully pushing back in the studio was that if some of the refugees out in Darfur wanted to stop the mass genocide, they would have been best off finding a school child to build a cult around, take them off to Hollywood to meet with a couple of actors and turn it into the current cause célèbre.