London Olympics – let’s rock!
With it’s usual impeccable timing, the BBC this week screened a new docu-drama about an unlikely rowing pair who won gold for Great Britain in the 1948 ‘austerity Games’ . With this country now officially in the grip of the ‘worst double-dip recession in 50 years’ ( source: The Guardian 15/07/2012 ), can we Brits forget about our immediate problems and actually try to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime event? Britons are known for our self-deprecating humour, which I reckon is a pretty good thing. We’re also famous for a deeply cynical press, which, for the most part, is also a pretty good thing. Its been instructive, however, to see that foreign media has taken issue this last week with the air of constant sniping that has surrounded the final build-up to the Games. In truth, the British media has looked determined to find bad news about the London Games however hard they have to look. They’ve been given a few easy targets, like the private security firm fiasco ( more an argument for public v private than one of Olympic organisation, in truth ), but they sure like to dig for more. It has to be said that there is a solid body of ‘informed individuals’ who sincerely believe that putting on a spectacle to promote Britain is not something to be encouraged. Every year we hear this argument about The Last Night of the Proms, the final evening of the annual ‘Promenade Concerts’ at the Royal Albert Hall ( a historic series of classical/orchestral performances ). The last night traditionally includes performances of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’, ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ and ‘Jerusalem’, to name but a few patriotic tunes. These ‘informed individuals’ describe this as ‘jingoistic’ ‘harking back to the days of Empire’ and are thus thoroughly shocked each year to see it repeated. For my part, I find this deeply hypocritical. When Her Majesty the Queen visits, for instance, New Zealand, and is entertained by a traditional Maori Haka, that seems to be OK, as highlighting an attractive element of ‘New Zealand-ness ‘ ( sorry!) is, one presumes, to be expected of ‘younger nations’. We Brits should know better. Balderdash! As Shakespeare said
‘All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players’
When you get the chance to be on stage, make the most of it.
And what of the merchandise? Its presence at retail has grown maybe slowly, but as of this week it’s to be found everywhere, finally gaining visibility where, previously, sponsor marketing has dominated store displays. I’m convinced that once the nation feels in its collective gut that the 2012 Games are actually underway, British people will want to own a souvenir of the occasion, and licensed merchandise, protected to an extraordinary degree, will be the goods that get purchased.
And so we anticipate the opening ceremony, that quintessential opportunity for each successive Olympic host nation to broadcast its unique qualities to the entire world, and thus encourage you all to come and visit, enjoy, and, of course, spend your money. ‘Austerity Britain 2012′ has been warned for years that we won’t have a budget to match the spectacle of Beijing 2008. If the team behind it has stuck to what we do well, and highlights what contemporary as well as historic Great Britain can be justly proud of, that will matter not a jot. So, with a bold claim advisory and at the risk of appearing jingoistic, my late appeal is for lots and lots of rock music, not only a rousing and invigorating art form, but the one for which the United Kingdom is indisputably the eternal gold medallist.