Sometimes you hope that the theatrical spirit of “It’ll be alright on the night” will look after dear old Londinium this year. Unfortunately the odds are not looking wonderful. What with possible industrial action on the Tube, Border Agency at Heathrow struggling to man their desks and Zil lanes for the ‘dignitaries’ (Somehow that word feels dirty and vulgar in my mouth when I think about all the bloated plutocrats swanning about in their armoured personal carriers), with Surface to air missiles and snipers on the rooftops of various buildings, the whole affair will be an event to miss. Even if, as the Mash suggests, the MoD is resorting to ‘Surface to Air Cockneys‘. There will be too much security and not enough fun. On the other hand they could always make that part of the event See the authentic British ‘blitz’ spirit in this authentic re-enactment of wartime London! Queues! Rationing! Stiff upper lips! Boris on a Bike! Oh dear. Sometimes the fun never starts. I truly feel sorry for Londoners.
By contrast, the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics were crammed with just about every type of armed enforcement officer from an RCMP Inspector to Prison Guards and private security all over the place. Yet Vancouver is way different from London because you can usually get where you want to go on the Transit regardless. No surface to air missiles, or snipers on rooftops. It was also heaps more relaxed, despite the presence of a patrolling cop or green coated volunteer on every street corner and cops on each carriage of the Skytrain. No Zil lanes though. The limousines had to take their place in the traffic. We’re very democratic like that on this side of the world.
Thinking about it, I’m wondering about the wisdom of roof top snipers in a city like London. All a terrorist nutter has to do is turn a corner and he’s gone. Add to that rush hour London’s notorious ‘people jams’ (Try Oxford Circus during peak travel times, with extra tourists). All a would be suicide bomber would have to do to cause maximum havoc is to join a queue, wait until he was in the mainstream and pull the pin. No sniper could touch him in that density of crowd, and the casualties from even a relatively modest detonation would make 7/7 look like a picnic. As for the surface to air missiles – that’s just window dressing. Firing surface to air missiles within a high rise urban environment? Which half crazed dingbat thought that one up? Think crashing aircraft and wayward ordnance in some of the most densely populated real estate in Europe – or rather not. I have to suppress a horrified prescient shudder at the merest inkling. Surely a better idea would be to stop the aircraft entering the populated area in the first place, rather than shooting one down when it was almost at its target. Burning aviation spirit and buildings do not mix – ask a New Yorker.
Personally I’m feeling fairly chipper because I won’t be watching a nanosecond of the London games. At home here in BC we’re cleaning the swimming pool ready for this Summer and although I shall be at a couple of conferences over on the mainland in July and August I’m looking forward to replenishing my tan during the mornings, and working in air conditioned offices in the afternoons and evenings. Then back home for a beer or whiskey with friends and maybe an evening barbecue and pool party. The past two Summers have been relative washouts, so local folk wisdom holds that this year will be better. I hope.
Update: With regards to certain officers of London’s Metropolitan Police censoring a rehash of the classical ‘Leda and the Swan‘ portrait drawn from the Greek myth. Which is no worse than some Perfume Adverts once splashed across advertising billboards. It tempts me to revisit Graham Chapman’s classic line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail every time I read the news about the UK; “On second thoughts, let’s not go there, it is a silly place.”
Perhaps the police concerned were bored and indulging in a little internal competition for ‘daft arrest of the week’. Swan upmanship anyone? I’ll get me coat.