Friday, 3 February 2012

Olympic Glamping

So snooty Greenwich will host the dressage. The newly polished corporate dog t*rd of Stratford will host the athletics, handball and such. Fencing - one of the poshest sports, surely, will take place at the lovely Excel Centre.
And what will Waltham Forest be getting, I hear you plead? Surely such a delightful corner of east London deserves a little Olympic glamour? Usain Bolt's personal training camp? Rebecca Adlington's swim massage suite? Sally Gunnell's retro sports merchandising market? Widely billed by our enthusiastic council as one of the "core" Olympic boroughs, we were expecting great things.
However, in the last couple of weeks we have learned that no such excitement is to come our way. Residents were delighted to receive a letter from the council's "head of public realm" (what? is that a genuine modern-day job-title?) informing them that Walthamstow will be hosting....wait....a giant campsite.
Five thousand visitors and their associated disposable £5.99 pop-up dome tents are expected to descend on our finest set of playing fields for three weeks in July and August. "Glamping" will be available as well as traditional pitches.
The organisers have insisted it will be "family friendly". Curtain twitchers in the area are already losing their marbles over "parking issues".
I'm personally quite excited about the event. Thousands of people expecting a "lush and serene" campsite "close to the Olympic park" are almost certain to be wildly disappointed by the site's location between the waterworks, the bread factory and two railway lines.
But what I do find upsetting is the reason the council has decided to "sell off" one of our few sports grounds for the duration. The £2 million raised will apparently help pay for the "Big Six" pre-Olympic events, staged for local residents. Think pointless firework displays and other sporty propaganda to "thank residents" for helping to host the games. So we have to rent out our sports fields to campers in order to pay for our own "thank you" party? The Stalinist propaganda machine surrounding the Olympics will surely eat itself now.
So for every pound of our money spent on the Olympics, a pound has been spent selling the idea to the people. Just give me the quid and I'll buy an icecream, I'm cool with the games.

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