Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The Hairy Armpit Revolution?

A certain brand of razor (by that I mean Gillette) has scored a real coup at the Olympics. Enormous tower blocks facing the Docklands Light Railway are adorned with massive hoardings and assault the eyes as you travel between venues. And once you enter the Olympic Park, or switch on your TV, you are confronted with the smooth. A gymnast's armpit, confidently braced without a hint of bristles. A diver's crotch, pink and plucked. Even Tom Daley's chest looks unnaturally lacking in the hair department. Yes, it seems like everyone has been going madly at the Immac. Pubes have been well and truly eradicated from this 21st Century Games.
So it was to my great delight to watch the glorious glorious women's weightlifting, 63kg class. At first, all was conformist: every woman who stepped up to the vast weights gave a triumphant flash of shaven pit as they wrenched it above their heads. Either that, or they covered their pits in a t-shirt. But then on came Seen Lee. The Australian mining engineer stepped onto the floor, took hold of the bar, made a face...and whooop! There they were: The most fabulously hairy armpits I had ever seen in a world television event. Millions of people the world over admired her tumbling curls as the enormous dumbell swayed above her head. If ever an event was designed to show off a person's complete disregard for oppressive norms of armpit maintenance, that was it. Bugger the gymnasts and their brutal bikini lines. Bollocks to the beach volleyball girls with their smooth exfoliated legs.  Stuff you, Gillette and your evil profiteering from body-hair insecurities. Three cheers for Seen Lee, what a wonderful woman. Hoorah. She came seventh. She gets a gold from me though.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Wiggo's Big Bong

If you had commissioned the largest harmonised bell in Western Europe, would you ring it only once, like the Rank Films gong bloke? Or, would you bang at it like a person possessed, surrounding yourself with vigorous echoey chimes? I know what I'd do, but then I'm a kind of "more is more" person, when it comes to bells.
It was probably for the best that Bradley Wiggins only got to bong the big bell once though: tired from the Tour de France victory it was best to save his energy for the road race....
I hope they have plans for the thing once the games are done. Perhaps they could melt it down and make it into NHS beds or braces for children's teeth or perhaps needles for an immunisation programme of Hackney squirrels?
Anyway, that's my oblique way of saying I thought the opening ceremony was all right, as ceremonies goes. Not really a ceremony, more a bonanza. There's been so much breathless stuff written about it, I feel I might be wasting my breath writing more, but then again....Ok, I enjoyed it, up until the bit where Seb Coe started his speech and I nodded off.
Highlights for me were, in no particular order: Evelyn Glennie and her drums, the uprooted tree, street-dancing Victorian industrialists, the Queen, the hairy goblins and Noel Fielding, Mr Bean, the Olympic rings raining sparks etc.
Things I really didn't like were: the enormous freaky baby head. It reminded me of that scene in Trainspotting where Renton is hallucinating about a scary enormous crawling baby. That Danny Boyle, he seems so goddam nice, but such an obsession with freaky babies. Real babies really aren't that bad.
Anyway, it's been quite eventful for the volunteers on the first couple of days of the Olympics. I seemed to spend my first day testing out the Jubilee Line and DLR which were very smooth. I spent the second day in Greenwich with a legend of French equestrianism and Olympic gold medal winner from Mexico '68. He was trying to get in touch with the French delegation but had no pass, no ticket, no accreditation and no English. We fought the authorities tooth and nail, and eventually cracked through the ring of steel by striking a deal with a soldier who delivered a paper (old skool) message. After a tense wait, we got a call from the French team who got us to take him to the house - draped in Tricolores - they had rented in Greenwich. At last, the 80-year-old was safe and welcome, but no thanks to the games organisers. I left thinking perhaps more could be done to afford the legends of the sport perhaps a little more welcome. But anyway - we had a lovely time with Jean-Jacques, who bemoaned how health and safety had taken the fun out of teaching riding to kids.
Nobody seems to be reading my Olympic posts, but that's probably because they are watching the beach volleyball. I met two ball girls today - Muslims in headscarves. God I despise beach volley ball. The men's shorts go down to their bloody knees.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Work No 1: All the Bellends

Someone sack whoever made that bell. Then someone sack Jeremy Hunt while you're at it. This morning's hilarious but potentially deadly "flying bellend" scenario during the mass bellringing thingy, I fear, will be the highlight of my Olympics. I fear it will not be beaten by the thrill of golds on track, field and velodrome.
Anyway, I think the incident tells the nation everything we need to know about Hunt: an over-privileged, over-promoted jogger who is trying to re-style himself as an affable Boris Johnson-alike jester. Much as I love a jester, I find it hard to like one who has got away with so much. I have no particularly strong feelings about the BSkyB debacle, but isn't there anyone more intelligent to run the culture department? Someone who could ring a bell without it falling off?
Maybe it's a bluff. Maybe his department planned for the bell to fly away, thus turning Hunt from chancing idiot to loveable Mr Bean? We English love to laugh at ourselves, right?
Anyway, enough of him. But it was funny. Fuck it was funny.
This is the first in a series of "live" Olympics posts that I will be posting over the next two weeks. As a games volunteer, I'm planning to bring my readers the very best pithy observations from the heart of the Olympiad.
Today, I can report three fabulous members of the Nigerian basketball team on the tube, a man in a bright orange office suit and assorted milling loons around the Westfield shopping centre. I also ran into a pleasant young Belgian couple who had cycled from Liege to camp in the Olympic campsite next to my house. £20 per person, per night? To sleep in a field in East London? They've been had.
Anyway, posts will be regular, but short and sweet. And if Jeremy Hunt carries on like this, we're going to have a blast.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Suicide Cyclists

How many vegan cyclists does it take to mount a rocket launcher on a tandem bicycle? How many ganja-puffing dog walkers does it take to launch a suicide attack on the Olympic stadium? What are the chances of a dirty bomb fashioned from old bicycle clips making it as far as the velodrome from outside of the perimeter fence?
All questions that the Olympic organisers must have been asking themselves before they closed off the towpath of the River Lea Navigation, where it wends past the Olympic Park at Hackney Wick.
Mystified and dismayed, cyclists and other users of the route have been staging protests after the decision to close off the vital section, that would have allowed locals to cycle to the Olympic games without going on roads or clogging up the bus lanes.
There is consternation that a section of the river that has been especially poshed up for the Olympics has been shut off at the last minute, apparently for "security" reasons. I have spent the last week wondering how on earth security could come into this. There are many other parts of the park where the perimeter fence is easily accessible to unscreened members of the public. And the fence is 20ft high, for Tom Daley's rippling sake.
Perhaps they wanted to prevent a Mumbai-style water-borne attack by canal barge? No, it still doesn't make sense - they would only have to guard the locks, not close off the whole pathway.
After much reflection this evening, I have reached the only conclusion possible: It is because the section that is blocked off comes dangerously close to the massive international press centre? Should Fathers for Justice or the We Hate The Olympics Its Shit And Give Us Our Money Back pressure group form a nasty flash mob in front of the world's press....
Yes, the prevention of angry protest and the ensuing international public relations disaster is the only explanation. We simply can't have a repeat of those regrettable riots where many poor people became terribly angry.
Ironically enough, it was by this very route that I was planning to cycle when I start work as an Olympic volunteer next Friday. My new route into the heart of the East End will be circuitous, dangerous and no doubt involve collisions with melon salesmen, two workmen carrying a large sheet of glass and a lorry dull of hay bales.
This, on top of a somewhat inconvenient new controlled parking zone in my street and an unsolicited "Olympic camp" on my local playing field.
Being a "critical friend" of Locog hasn't been easy in recent months. As I practice my welcoming smile for the capital's thousands of foreign guests, it is starting to look a little strained. Indeed, a little constipated, as I contemplate the arsey inconvenience of it all.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Usain Bolt's Boxer Shorts-Wallah

I like a sprinter in lycra as much as the next body-fascist. I'll happily spend an hour or two admiring muscular athletes of either sex spilling forth from their tiny costumes. When something looks this good, surely, it would be rude not to look?
But that is in the stadium, where to bare all, in the name of performance, is almost certainly necessary. Even if the lycra streamlining hood is not. Part of the sport's allure is admiring the peaks of human speed, endurance and strength alongside the rippling musculature.
But when I see female athletes strip for magazines, it brings me out in a hairy-armpitted fit of feminist fury. I'm sorry Victoria Pendleton, while I acknowledge your nifty ability with a bike and your tremendous arse, don't do it. Not for GQ magazine at least. I am most perturbed at the thought of all those pervy men in trendy suits and pointy brogues staring at her. Women in sport have a hard enough time being recognised for their talents as it is (will my dearest dear Paul Radcliffe ever live down the "pissing pitstop" moment?)
I know I know, we women have posters of Bradley Wiggins' incredible body adorned in a condom-like biking suit all over our walls. We drool over Wayne Rooney's delightful hairy legs (please note: irony). If only, if only, I could sink my teeth into (Sir) Chris Hoy's bulging thighs. Men are objectified too. But with men, it is a secondary thing. The lust is secondary to the nation's pride at their winning. And when ugly men do badly, we take them motheringly to our hearts. Look at Andy Murray.
But with women, it is everything. If you're not attractive, but successful, you are only begrudging admired and given little attention (see Sally Gunnell for details).
And if a beautiful woman loses - such as Sharapova - she's blamed for doing too many L'Oreal adverts instead of practising her backhand. Women should certainly boycott photoshoots of all but the most tracksuited kind until they are treated seriously by the sporting press, and the world in general.
But there may be a solution to all this hypocrisy and bum-gazing.
Despite my desire to be Usain Bolt's boxer shorts-wallah at the Olympic Games, I think, on reflection, I would support a Muslim-style "modest" Olympiad.
Let us filter out the distraction of the wobbling breast, the oscillating testicle, the raw naked-but-for-a-strip-of-peach-leotard crotch. Let us admire the sport for sports sake, be it by man or woman or neuter.
Stella McCartney could design something along the lines of a black jersey body suit with appropriately ruched sections for all. Especially for those bloody beach volley-ball porn stars. They should be bloody banned altogether until they get some clothes on.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Lanky freak? Admire the View

Can you sue somebody because they inadvertently allowed you to grow too tall? Does being 6ft 5ins ruin your life? These are the questions being posed at the high court in London as we speak. As a woman who is frequently compared to a giraffe, this story fascinates me.
20-year-old Kate Woodward claims that doctors’ failure to diagnose a tumour on her pituitary gland which led to her soaring to the size of a basketball player has “marked her out as a freak”.
Although she suffers side effects on her back, knees and teeth, it seems sad that she cannot wear her height with pride. She surely needs to, because it’s not something she’s ever going to hide. Surely the advantages of extreme height outweigh the inconveniences? I’ve always enjoyed the extra reach of my long octopus arms. I get a good view at concerts, rather than finding my face crushed between the sweaty buttocks of an overweight Happy Mondays fan.
My long legs won me all the sprint races at school, despite my body being built for long distances (I won those as well). I can eat an awful lot of cake without any ill-effects.
And it’s helped me get on in a man’s world. Being a short woman scuttling around the floor like a toddler in heels can be an impediment when negotiating with male colleagues and business contacts.
And then there’s the double-standards: if Kate was a man she’d be donning a mesh singlet and shooting hoops to the sounds of adoring cheerleaders right now. Surely?
The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust have already admitted it’s their fault she’s too tall. But they don’t want to shell out quite as much cash….understandably given the state of the NHS.
So good luck to you Kate, but money won’t really change anything. You can’t lop a foot off your height without losing something vital, so the only thing you’ll get out of it is tailormade trousers and an extra-long bed.
Better to embrace your size. Find a 7ft Russian husband. Become a model, campaign for better legroom for tall people. Become the poster girl for the vertically un-challenged. And enjoy always being able to see what’s going on at the front.