London is about to go Olympic crazy, and whether that is a good or bad thing depends on your point of view. I admire the Olympic spirit and the kind of dedication which makes the excellent excel, but I cannot stand the commercialism of the whole thing, the way companies pay huge sums to be the official carbonated water supplier of the games or whatever while sausage makers in Dorset get threatened for shaping their wares into the shape of the rings. And let us not get started on the Olympic park hosting the biggest McDonald’s in the world. At least we were correct in our bid about giving something back to the children, although perhaps high cholesterol and ADHD were not meant to be that high on the list.
The promises to promote Britain as a cultural hothouse have also fallen by the wayside. Some 20 established composers have been paid to write pieces, each 12 minutes long and Coldplay will apparently perform at the closing concert, which will help those who have been too excited to sleep over the Olympic fortnight to drift off, their songs regularly consisting of four chords going round and round and round. Musicians are being asked to play for as close to free as makes no difference (technically £50 per act per hour), simply because they are being given the opportunity to showcase their wares (without being allowed to mention that they are playing!), but I would imagine the builders of the Olympic site got paid. And Sir Simon Rattle will conduct an orchestra during the opening ceremony, all of them miming to a recording which was directed by somebody else. It is a bit of a muddle.
Thankfully my work diary turns to the quieter side after Thursday, so I hope to get away relatively lightly, but I do feel sorry for those whose journey into work took two and a half hours yesterday morning rather than the usual one, because of lane closures in preparation for the big event. For some these two weeks are going to be an experience to remember for all the wrong reasons. Maybe I will eventually get swept up in the spirit of the thing, we shall see, but meanwhile I shall probably continue to be a curmudgeon. Somebody is quoted in this morning’s paper as saying that Britain could win a gold medal for grumbling, but I see nothing wrong with the scrutiny, especially when there areas where liberties are being taken or, indeed, denied.
While the elite (a notion celebrated in sport but a trigger for funding cuts in the arts) are running, swimming and jumping faster than anybody else I shall be getting on with things in my attic, scribbling away on new pieces. The latest one is coming along pretty well, and feels as if it is just about to reach that tipping point when the structure becomes clear and the road ahead is revealed. Thus far it has been a bit of a struggle, but some solid work yesterday has managed to shape things into what I hope will be something close to a final structure. With time and ideas on my side I should have it wrapped up and done by the end of the month, which will give it time to simmer before it needs to go off for its competition.