Archive for Olympics

Qualifying Standards

Posted in Biographical, Education, Sport with tags , , on August 13, 2012 by telescoper

Well, the Olympics are finally over. I have to say I didn’t see much of the games themselves, although I did catch Mo Farah’s excellent run in the 5000m final and afterwards reminding us all that one can be a great athlete as well as humble and likeable individual. I see that Team GB (and NI) have done remarkably well in landing a haul of 29 gold medals, well up on Beijing 2008.

Many of these were in sports I know nothing about (such as Keirin and Dressage, both of which sound to me like items of IKEA furniture) but I’m perfectly happy to accept that winning any Olympic Gold medal is a remarkable achievement and requires not just talent but dedication and hard work. I hope the success of Team GB inspires others with the thought that succeeding in doing what’s difficult can be rewarding in itself, whether or not it leads to personal wealth.

I have just a couple more days here in Copenhagen, where the weather has been lovely throughout my visit. Here’s a gratuitous picture of one of the city’s lovely parks in the sunshine:

I’m feeling a lot better for having been here for the last week or so. The people here have been so very kind and understanding. I have to admit, though, I’m a bit nervous about going back because: (a) I have more medical tests to go through before I start on a proper programme; (b) quite a big backlog has built up of things I have to do; and (c) I have to face the colleagues and students I’ve let down so badly over the last few weeks and try to find a way of making up for my dereliction of duty.

The next big thing when I get back to work will be admissions. On Thursday (16th August) the A-level examination results will be officially announced and the clearing system opens for business. Only then will we find out how many students we’ll have entering the first year in October. We think things have gone pretty well on the recruitment front, but you never know until you see the final numbers. Fingers crossed.

Anyway, with the results having been published, there’ll no doubt be the usual discussion in the newspapers about whether the Olympic Games were easier this year than they were in our day….

Opening Remarks

Posted in Politics, Sport with tags , , on July 28, 2012 by telescoper

I wasn’t intending to watch last night’s Opening Ceremony for the 2012 Olympics, but in the end I did. I found it unexpectedly wonderful, in a wild and rather surreal way, especially when it made a point of celebrating one of the things I think we British can be truly proud of, our National Health Service.

Somebody  posted on Twitter Danny Boyle’s introduction to the show from the programme. I can’t put it better than he did.

The irony, of course, is that the Olympic games aren’t really for everyone; they’re mainly for the benefit of the few multinational companies who’ve purchased the rights to sell their merchandise, including junk food,  at the events and to have large parts  of London closed down so they can ply their wares. And for the legions of corporate guests and other hangers-on who’ll fill their bellies over the next few weeks. Not far from the ceremony, Police used draconian tactics to stamp out a protest by a group of people who had the nerve to cycle in the Olympic lanes; 200 were arrested. The right to demonstrate is an essential part of a democracy, but it too has been sacrificed on the altar of commercialisation.

But I think the irony was deliberate. A Tory MP, Aidan Burley, moaned on twitter that the ceremony was full of “leftie multi-cultural crap”. People like him symbolize everything that is wrong with modern Britain. I think Danny Boyle conjured up something special last night, the image of a Britain that most of us, and especially our politicians, seem to have forgotten. Not one about greed, warmongering and xenophobia, but one of creativity, freedom, and generosity of spirit. It must have made members of our government very uncomfortable, especially because they paid for it.

And I should also add another thing I liked about it. It was very British. Not in an arrogant or pompous way. There was, after all, plenty of self-deprecating humour on display, especially Mr Bean’s appearance with the London Symphony Orchestra. In amongst the MacDonalds and Coca Cola logos, I find that very refreshing. I  do wonder how much of it was understood by foreign viewers, but that’s not the point. The world is more than a dreary retail park in which every shop sells the same tat. You don’t have to eat pork scratchings or drink warm beer if you don’t want to, but some of us over here rather like them.

I don’t care much about the actual games, and probably won’t watch much on TV, but I do hope the message of the opening ceremony isn’t forgotten.

The Echoing Green

Posted in Poetry, Sport with tags , , , , on June 10, 2012 by telescoper

The sun does arise,
And make happy the skies.
The merry bells ring
To welcome the spring.
The skylark and thrush,
The birds of the bush,
Sing louder around,
To the bells’ cheerful sound,
While our sports shall be seen
On the echoing green.

Old John with white hair
Does laugh away care,
Sitting under the oak,
Among the old folk.
They laugh at our play,
And soon they all say:
‘Such, such were the joys
When we all, girls and boys,
In our youth-time were seen
On the echoing green.’

Till the little ones weary
No more can be merry;
The sun does descend,
And our sports have an end.
Round the laps of their mother
Many sisters and brothers,
Like birds in their nest,
Are ready for rest;
And sport no more seen
On the darkening green.

by William Blake (1757-1827)

Posted to mark the “Great British Summer of Sport“, although I doubt if William Blake would have approved of the modern Olympics, which is nothing more a publicly-subsidised celebration of  consumerism  run  for the benefit of sponsors and corporate guests of multinational junk-food merchants.

Godzilla versus the Olympics

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on April 30, 2012 by telescoper

Breaking News. Alarming footage just released by MI5 reveals the true nature of the threat to the forthcoming 2012 Olympic games and explains why it is necessary to station missile batteries in London’s East End.