Well, the games are over. Pretty soon, they’ll have taken the nice coloured banners down from the lamp-posts and gone back to not sweeping the streets as much. And the stadium will be a bloody football ground. Like we need another one.
I don’t like sport, so I was a bit surprised by something that happened. What surprised me was not that it all seemed to go pretty well, but that even though I only watched the opening and closing ceremonies and a few minutes of the swimming (all on TV), it still managed to puncture my feeling of smug, comfortable cynicism about the whole thing.
This is not a state of affairs that I’m used to. Its this place, you see. I’ve managed to live in Manchester for about ten years without ever really feeling like I had any emotional connection to the area. Its just were I happen to be. Unlike everywere else I’ve ever lived, I just have no feeling of place here. No connection to it. Just too big a place to feel like a place, probably.
But the strangest thing: watching the rain lashing down on the closing ceremony, and the people there having such an blatantlygood time, I almost felt … well, proud. Of this city and what it did for those few days. Almost Mancunian. A strange feeling, and it didn’t last very long, but I remember it for other places in the past. Hull, Leicester, Alresford. Maybe it’ll be back again.
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Anyway. As a counterpoint to these nice, warm, fuzzy feelings, heres an email that was doing the rounds at the time of Manchester’s bid to stage the 2004 Olympic games:
Date: 06 November 1998 12:35
Subject: Fw: Manchesters bid to stage to 2004 games
In an attempt to influence the members of the international Olympic committee on their choice of venue for the games in the year 2004, the organisers of Manchester’s bid have already drawn up an itinerary and schedule of events.
A copy has been leaked and is reproduced below.
The Olympic flame will be ignited by a petrol bomb thrown by a native of the city (preferably from the Moss Side area), wearing the traditional balaclava. The flame will be contained in a large chip-pan situated on the roof of the stadium.
In previous Olympic games, Manchester’s competitors have not been particularly successful. In order to redress the balance, some of the events have been altered slightly to the advantage of local ‘Manchester’ athletes.
100 METRES SPRINT
Competitors will have to hold a video recorder and microwave oven (one in each arm) and on the sound of the starting pistol, a police dog will be released from a cage 10 yards behind the athletes.
100 METRES HURDLES
As above but with added obstacles (ie. car bonnets, hedges, gardens, fences, walls etc.)
Competitors in this event may choose the type of hammer they wish to use (claw, sledge etc) the winner will be the one who can cause the most grievous bodily harm to members of the public within the time allowed.
Entrants will be asked to dispose of as much stolen silver and jewellery as possible in 5 mins.
A strong challenge is expected from the local men in this event. The first target will be a moving police van. In the second round, competitors will aim at a post office clerk bank teller or Securicor style wages delivery man.
Entry to the boxing will be restricted to husband and wife teams, and will take place on a Friday night. The husband will be given 15 pints of lager while the wife will be told not to make him any tea when he gets home. The bout will then commence.
CYCLING TIME TRIALS
Competitors will be asked to break into the University bike shed and take an expensive mountain bike owned by some mummy’s boy from the country on his first trip away from home. All against the clock
As above but the bike will be owned by a visiting member of the Australian rugby team, who will witness the theft.
Amended to include mugging, breaking and entering, flashing, joy riding and arson.
A safe route has yet to be decided, but the competitors will be issued with sharp sticks and bags with which to pick up litter on their way round the course.
Competitors will be thrown off the bridge over the ship canal. The first three survivors back, will decide the medals.
MENS 50KM WALK
Unfortunately this will have to be cancelled as the police cannot guarantee the safety of anyone walking the streets of Manchester.
THE CLOSING CEREMONY
Entertainment will include formation rave dancing by members of the Salford Health in the Community anti-drug campaigners, synchronised rock throwing and music by the Stockport Community Choir. The Olympic flame will be extinguished by someone dropping an old washing machine onto it from the top floor of the block of flats next to the stadium. The stadium will be then boarded up before the local athletes break into it and remove all the copper piping and the central heating boiler