Well done the volunteers

 

           When I stepped out of my car to pay the car parking charges in Windsor on Saturday morning I was full of apprehension. There was a person in LOCOG clothing watching me. I had ringing in my mind the many officious emails I had received as someone who had dared to buy a ticket to go to the Olympic rowing.

          I had been told on no account to go by car. I had been told there would be nowhere to park and nowhere to drop off by the games. Was I going to be sent back to the Maidenhead park and ride?  I had been told to buy my railway tickets early, even though there was no obvious way for me to get there by train at the early hour in the morning they told me I had to go. Indeed the railway website routed me via London the night before.  The railway company of course stayed silent, failing to contact me as a potential passenger. Probably they failed  to do so as they knew that as they were putting on no specials from anywhere near me there was no point. I would explain patiently if asked that I had examined the train option and found there wasn’t one which worked.

            I had in my mind that I could not take a large umbrella even though it was clearly going to deluge.  Surely the umbrella I had selected was small enough to squeak by? Had I perhaps offended against the rules on what I could take with me?  I had made sure there was no bottle of more than 100ml with me, but was she worried about the bulge of the binoculars in my pocket?  Perhaps taking a mac as well as a jacket was against the regulations? I readied myself for the questions and the likely official mind seeking to find fault with my preparations to be a spectator.

             The first suprise I had was the empty car park and the absence of any prohibition on parking there for the morning. I did not have to retrace my drive to Maidenhead as I had feared. The second amazing surpise was the lady in the official clothing  smiled at me, and called out that I should walk following the pink signs to get to the rowing!  She wanted me to have a nice day, did not object to my way of travel or dress, and was trying to help. It made my day.

             It made me realise just how cowed we have all become by the endless petty minded officiousness in our daily lives in  the snooper society.  The Locog emails and literature had seemed just like that – the worst kind of airport bossiness, treating  spectators out to have a good time as possible threats to the planet if they dared to use a car, and possible threats to security if they came with a bottle of water in their bag.  Instead I found an army of volunteers helping us spectators on our way to the games, as we walked the thirty minutes from Windsor to the venue. They were cheery, encouraging, friendly. They did not voice a single criticism of how we were turned out. There were people with big umbrellas and large bags filled with all sorts of things that probably offended against the email holy grail, but no-one seemed to mind.

               As we got nearer the venue the trickle of walkers became a torrent, a happy flow of people out to have an enjoyable morning watching great athletes at the top of their game. We watched empty buses rushing by, with no stops along the walk to pick any of us up. We walked past an enormous car park, presumably reserved for officialdom, and past the car and taxi drop off point which did not exist for us.   I thought the walk was an enjoyable start, given the friendliness of it all. The security post was well manned and allowed us through easily, making the necessary checks. Despite the large number of people, the security posts did not create a queue when I went through, as there seemed to be plenty of entry points, personnel and scanners. The army personnel manning them were polite and efficient.

               We endured a downpour in the early races, but everyone remained good spirited. The volunteers were everywhere trying to help the visitors,  were polite, happy, positive and informative. Instead of criticising spectator choices, they told you where the queues for food were shorter if you needed to know, told you how far you were from your destination, or helped you find your seat. The spectators were happy and in good voice. I was close to Australian and New Zealand supporters, who cheered their teams strongly to the general aproval of the many Brits in the crowd.

                The sun came out just in time for the four big medal winning races. Team GB was in the first three, and  powered to two golds and a silver. It was a great event, with the sport well managed and the competitors in good form.

                 Please can officialdom learn from the volunteers? They made the day happier and easier for all concerned. It was such a relief to be allowed to enoy yourself, instead of feeling you were competing in  the compliance hurdles.

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65 Comments

  1. Freeborn John
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    Thanks. I have been volunteering at the Rowing Village in Egham and am enjoying the comeraderie and can-do spirit among the volunteers to make the experience of the rowers and now the sprint canoeists as good as possible.

    • The Prangwizard
      Posted August 6, 2012 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      The contrast between the two experiences is very interesting, may I ask from whom and how did you get your instructions? Where do you think the official authoritarianism ended and humanity began, I presume it wasn’t a mass collective decision to ignore instructions to be bossy. We must of course try to resist authoritarianism in all its forms however.

      Reply : Any ticket buyer was inundated with rules and regulations from LOCOG.

  2. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    Pleased to see you had such an enjoyable experience.

  3. Mike Stallard
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    I shall remember this post when I travel to Asia this autumn.

  4. lifelogic
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    Indeed the volunteers are still human it seems, not yet having been ground down in to officialdom jobsworths.

    I read in the Sunday Times that the Belgium interior minister, Ms Milquet, has promised to introduce fines of 250 euros for men making sexist comments.

    Things like:-

    “should I park the car dear as we cannot afford to drive round all day looking for an even larger space”

    or “why do you always wear shoes you cannot walk in when you walk so slowly anyway?”

    or “you have got the map on totally the wrong page again dear, can you not see it is just a scaled down representation of the roads we are using? ”

    I think these are the sorts of thing she must mean. I assume anti male comments such as their inability to multi-task, speak foreign languages well and communicate (much loved by BBC woman’s hour) or even how the banks would be so much better run with more women and less testosterone at the top, will still be allowed without fines.

    Hopefully Cameron will not hear about it or get any ideas. It is the sort of mad gimmick & stunt that is right up his street.

    • Richard
      Posted August 6, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

      I didn’t realise that Belgium even had a Government.
      Last time I read about them they had been without a proper Government for 18 months due to an inability in finding a working majority from the numerous minority parties in their coalition.

      • APL
        Posted August 8, 2012 at 6:39 am | Permalink

        Richard: “had been without a proper Government for 18 months due to an inability”

        No government, but country is still functioning. There is a lesson for us all there.

    • zorro
      Posted August 6, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      As you say, fortunately the volunteers cannot be indoctrinated so easily…..’If there was hope, it must lie in the proles…’

      zorro

    • Bazman
      Posted August 7, 2012 at 6:26 am | Permalink

      “you have got the map on totally the wrong page again dear, can you not see it is just a scaled down representation of the roads we are using? ” Love it. Did the map go out of the window after that?

    • APL
      Posted August 8, 2012 at 6:48 am | Permalink

      lifelogic: “Ms Milquet, has promised to introduce fines of 250 euros for men making sexist comments. ”

      Stupid feminist opression.

      My favorite non pc joke.

      Man stands back and admires his work: ” What do you think of that darling?”

      Woman: ” What is it?”

      Man: ” It’s Civilization, you know, Medicine, cars, washing machines, that sort of thing. Do you like it?”

      Woman: “Yes. But what have you done for me lately?”

  5. colliemum
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    Your description, and especially this sentence:
    “It made me realise just how cowed we have all become by the endless petty minded officiousness in our daily lives in the snooper society.”
    recalled memories from decades ago when travelling by car or train from Berlin to then West Germany, through the communist East Germany.

    It is this cowedness, this fear which makes people acquiesce to unreasonable ‘rules’. It is this fear which makes us police ourselves, doing the work for the authorities.

    Your example of trying to obey all the LOCOG rules and how that made you feel illustrates how easy it is for a free people to fall victim to totalitarian rulers, and how it is especially easy for people who believe that rules are rules and need to be followed, like we do.
    Perhaps it is time for us to remember that rules curtailing personal freedom need to be very thoroughly scrutinised indeed – and, dare I say it, disobeyed.

    • lifelogic
      Posted August 6, 2012 at 7:06 am | Permalink

      Indeed perhaps a general law saying that, where you can show that a rule/law is pointless (or worse actually negative) you can ignore it with impunity.

      • APL
        Posted August 8, 2012 at 6:51 am | Permalink

        We simply need our representatives to observe common law.

        If they did, then they would be sitting twiddling their thumbs all day.

    • Robert Taggart
      Posted August 6, 2012 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      Agreed. But. Those who parrot the line “rules are rules” do appear to disproportionally find themselves in positions of power (on the ground anyway) and able to be Jobsworths without accountability.
      Many such people being ‘Civil’ Servants and other low ranking public employees.

    • zorro
      Posted August 6, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

      You might laugh when I sometimes allude to us becoming rather like East Germany in some of our social mores and attitudes, like PC behaviour, and opposition to this is often officially condemned…..As John says, it is an insidious type of thought control that makes you worry about how you might be viewed or disapproved, slowly ratcheting up the pressure over the years. A good example of how a society can sleep walk into this state……watch ‘The Lives of Others’ to see the mundane nature of how it occurs….

      zorro

      • Bazman
        Posted August 8, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

        Come up with any funny right wing comedians yet? Clarkson? No. Jim Davidson. You are not having a laugh…
        If all this non PC banter is so funny then you should be able to name at least one?

    • zorro
      Posted August 6, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      Guidance of the wise, obedience of fools….

      zorro

  6. norman
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    I thought the Big Society idea had been abandoned and Big Brother was the in thing now? Never mind, we’ll soon weed out this sort of friendliness. Read last week that children are being encouraged to shop family members and neighbours who they suspect may be participating in immoral activities (avoiding paying their fair share to the Leviathan).

    As an example of the kind of zeal we need to instill in future generations I read a tweet from Aggers last week (he was commentating on the archery ) and his umbrella was confiscated because the logo on it had not been sanctioned by the committee on acceptable umbrella logos so count yourself lucky! Someone was kind enough to donate an umbrella to Aggers so he didn’t have to commentate for too long in the downpour. Another helpful soul pointed out to him he could buy an officially sanctioned one at the gift shop for £20 (cost, made in China, 50 pence – who says the entrepeneurial spirit is dead?)

    Be thankful you didn’t bring a flask of soup, rumour is it’s being tested to make sure it’s Heinz otherwise it’s being poured straight down the drain.

    As part of celebrating the Olympics and to help me get in the spirit of things I’ve been eating nothing but McDonalds and drinking nothing but Heineken these last 10 days. By the way, does anyone know of any paracetomal / aspirin / heartburn companies who are sponsoring the games? Don’t want to break the Olympic spirit but I’m starting to suffer. No pain no gain though!

    • Robert Taggart
      Posted August 6, 2012 at 11:32 am | Permalink

      Glad to say our prescription tablets (two kinds) and another, went through the scanners without ‘alarm’ !
      Not so for moi though – forgot our keys in our back pocket – was given a pleasant rub-down by a nice young Squady !!

  7. ChrisXP
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Volunteering for something means that the person has made a decision in the heart, or soul, to do that task. They are doing it because (usually) they want to and not because they HAVE to. I don’t know what the set-up is with the Olympics; whether these people are being paid anything or not; but there is definitely a difference. Would we all still choose to do our present jobs even if we were not paid? They say “do what you love” and if that happens to be volunteering in a car-park then the chances are more likely you will have a happy volunteer rather than a grisly one.

  8. Mark C
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    The volunteers, members of the armed forces and security guards at the main site are also very friendly and helpful creating a great atmosphere.

  9. alan jutson
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    John

    Your experience mirrors almost exactly that of my Daughter and Son in law when they attended the Equestrian Event at Greenwhich last weekend, a description of which I posted earlier last week.

    Volunteers all in bright uniforms, happy smiling faces pointing out the way to go with giant foam hands at many stations.

    The train service from Reading, Twyford or Wokingham into London, a disgrace, with an impossible timetable, no fast trains, no specials, and short of carriages.

    The trains information centre website hopeless.

    Security absolutely no problem, no waiting ,although they had bween advised in advance, and in writing, to allow for a Two Hour wait to get into the stadium.

    The Official regulation of box tickers, pointers, pokers, and official hangers on have fortunately failed to dampen the British Spirit on this occassion so far.

    Congratulations to all of our competitors who have so far been successful, and who’s hard work has been rewarded in the best possible way.

    Let us hope the second week is as good as the first.

  10. Pete the Bike
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    A fine case study of the difference between officials and people. Officials are overbearing, nannying, interfering and almost universally wrong about everything. People when dealing with others are generally much more reasonable.

  11. Andy
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    “There needs to be a radical reform of sports policy and a major increase in Government funding to build on the success of Team GB at the London Games, the head of the British Olympic Association has said.”

    Perhaps this an appropriate time to voice the opinion that the sports lobby have now had their fun and should shut about sport (at least as far as lobbying the government is concerned) for say, the next 60 years or so?

    I do not expect to contribute tax to pay for sport.

  12. PayDirt
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    This is what is particularly weird about the British, on the one hand they can revel in letting their hair down, go out into the sun and shine, but on the other there are the elements of the police state , which is not just the police but the whole population who insist on rules, rules and more rules. Perhaps its something to do with pagan Britons in spirit and Germanic officiousness in practice?

  13. Lord Blagger
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    It made me realise just how cowed we have all become by the endless petty minded officiousness in our daily lives in the snooper society.

    =========

    Really? Let me tell you how to reverse it. I cycle in London. Always have. However recently I’ve resorted to using a camera.

    The reasons are the standard of driving.

    3 cases are interesting and relate to your question on how to deal with officialdom.

    1. Royal protection officer cuts me up on constitution hill. Has a bout of road rage with I indicated he was driving like a wanker (you get the guesture). So he pullls me over. Wouldn’t show his warrant card on demand. So I put in a complaint. Next to Buckingham Palace there are no working CCTV cameras. 1 week later, someone was killed at the same point. Police didn’t ring me back when I phoned them on this mater.

    2. Inspector using a mobile whilst driving. I knocked on his window asking him what he was doing. He became aggressive. So I reported him. He got a bollocking for it. Interestingly here, they put a huge effort into trying to find CCTV.

    3. Last week. WPC driving using a mobile. Told her off. She was polite.

    The difference between 1,2 and 3? Well in 3 I told her and showed her that I had a camera. However, they still sent a bike to chase me down so she could try and explain herself more.

    So why the difference? 1 and 2 were deniable. However, if there is an attack on Buckingham palace, I’ve the voice recordings where they say the can’t find a working camera.

    So record the state. Record your conversations. Broadcast them. The state can’t cope.

    e.g. If the tax man says you can claim for X, claim for it, then broadcast the tape. 100,000 other people will claim for it. They can’t deny claims because they can’t appeal their own judgements. People like John then have to vote to change the law retrospectively to get people. He’s got a track record of doing this.

    • Adam5x5
      Posted August 7, 2012 at 5:26 am | Permalink

      People like John then have to vote to change the law retrospectively to get people.

      I didn’t think that was actually possible/legal?

      Can anyone with more legal knowledge enlighten me?

      • APL
        Posted August 8, 2012 at 7:01 am | Permalink

        Adam5x5: “I didn’t think that was actually possible/legal?”

        I believe they crossed the Rubicon when they passed the War crimes act, not only does it have retrospective force, but applies to jurisdictions where the UK government has no lawful authority.

  14. oldtimer
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Glad you enjoyed the day. It made terrific TV viewing – as have the other water sports, sailing and the whitewater kayak events. It confirmed the opinion (was it Steve Redgrave?) that the UK does best in events where you sit down or go backwards or both.

  15. Simon George
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    “As we got nearer the venue the trickle of walkers became a torrent, a happy flow of people out to have an enjoyable morning watching great athletes at the top of their game. We watched empty buses rushing by, with no stops along the walk to pick any of us up. We walked past an enormous car park, presumably reserved for officialdom, and past the car and taxi drop off point which did not exist for us. I thought the walk was an enjoyable start, given the friendliness of it all.”

    So there you have it. It is possible to get somewhere without using a vehicle everywhere you go. In fact walking is quite an enjoyable experience.

    Elsewhere I read a report by someone who attended the Olympic Cycling Road Race at Box Hill. He spoke of how peaceful the experience was without any motorised traffic in the area despite the huge crowds.

    There is a lesson to be learnt here. “It made me realise just how cowed we have all become by the endless petty minded officiousness in our daily lives in the snooper society.” And how cowed we have become in subservience to the tyranny of motorised traffic.

  16. Adam5x5
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    It made me realise just how cowed we have all become by the endless petty minded officiousness in our daily lives in the snooper society.

    Not all of us are cowed by the petty beauracrats. Some of us treat them with the contempt they deserve, if we acknowledge their presence at all. I myself deal with officialdom very little, thankfully – in fact the only contact I have is when I go to pay my rip-off council tax. Value for money? Don’t make me larf…

    The army personnel manning them were polite and efficient.
    Were the army personnel made to wear hi-viz or was some common sense and dignity retained?

    On a more positive note, glad to hear you enjoyed it and our athletes did well.

  17. Bob
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    When they hold the closing ceremony will they showcase the reality of the NHS rather than a idealised fantasy?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2183935/Parents-horror-finding-12-year-old-daughter-lying-NHS-hospital-bed-rigor-mortis.html

    • lifelogic
      Posted August 7, 2012 at 6:07 am | Permalink

      No the reality with always be hidden. Rules which come down hard on any whistle blowers, who are distracting from the (free at the point of rationing and death) “The NHS is wonderful message”.

      If they ever wanted and efficient NHS a system of protection for whistle blowers and a proper, open, accident/tragedy inquiry system would be one of the first actions needed. No chance of this what so ever under Cameron.

  18. Acorn
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Have you noticed that the BBC has been desperate to find something that’s gone wrong. Something an opposition “gob-on-a-stick”, (HT Littlejohn) politician; or, select committee chair, can utter some bilious banal put-down.

    Please can we get Lord Seb to keep together his top 600 people from LOCOG and Associates plc; and, takeover Westminster and Whitehall at the next election – which can’t come too soon for me.

    Just put the 600 (maybe still 650), on the Westminster ballot as paper candidates for the LOCOG Party. No need to do any canvassing, we know what they can do and how good they can do it.

    • lifelogic
      Posted August 6, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      Of course the main thing that has gone wrong is that they have spend billions on a bit of light TV entertainment and white elephant stadia. Worth perhaps 10% of what they have all cost. All the money borrowed by mortgaging our children.

      Do we, for example, really want to use vast sums of tax payers money to encourage females (or indeed males) to punch each others heads causing brain damage and put it on TV? Surely if they want to do this could they not use their own money for these simple pleasures.

    • SadButMadLad
      Posted August 6, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

      @Acorn, no way should Lord Seb and his cronies take over parliament. LOCOG is the one who has made all the mistakes and cock ups and had all the bad publcity. John is talking about volunteers who are actually human.

      LOCOG are the type to ban bakers from hanging up five donuts strung together. I mean there is the ban against using the symbol to imply affliation with the Olympics, but a local baker using five donuts obviously isn’t. Even the dumbest of dumb people know that only the big corporations who have paid mega-pounds are affiliated properly with the Olympics. And don’t say rules are rules, that would just show you to be like a plastic bobby who doesn’t use experience and common sense to make sense of the real world.

  19. Robert Taggart
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Likewise Johnny.
    Alas. our only experience of the games was a day ticket to the Olympic Park and an ascent ‘into Orbit’ !
    Oneself applied for tickets for the two Ceremonies and the Athletics session which included the Mens 100 metres. As someone who never wins ballots / lotteries – it was not to be – atleast, not at a ‘sensible’ price !
    It was no joy either from the following rounds of ticket releases. That is not to mention our daily logging into the ticketing website – without ‘result’.
    The Olympic Games ? – most frustrating – for some of us.

  20. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    You probably wish in vain. Most likely the officials will arrange a public hanging of the volunteers.

  21. Mike Fowle
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Delighted you had such an enjoyable time. The face of officaldom can make a huge difference. When the torch came through my town, I was pleasantly surprised to find the police officers controlling the crowd were sensible and jolly. They can do it.

  22. forthurst
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    It’s nice to be reminded occasionally that the English are a civilised people whose civility is largely genetically determined. Unfortunately this means that they are possibly too inclined to obey instructions and largely leaves them defenceless when confronted by those who lack such characteristics or whose intentions towards them are malignant.

    Watching the BBC coverage of the sailing, the commentary was premised on the assumption that the audience would be familiar with motoring and not of nautical terminology and had a zero inductive capacity or any desire to learn; the occasional nautical term did slip out as presumably, trying to comment on something whilst translating into a foreign language must be quite hard. This nonsense is standard practice at the BBC and is premised on the assumption that the English apart from the leftie BBC intelligentsia are morons.

  23. Peter Geany
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    John. It is always pleasing when a Politian is able to pick up on how many of us feel. What I find dispiriting is that my children eldest 27 and youngest 16 are far more compliant than ever we were when we were their age. They think I’m some sort of grey haired old reactionary, and yet it is them that I fear for if they don’t wake up and see what’s happening, for without the support of the core youngsters we face an uphill battle to untangle our freedom.

    Before and after the last election there was much talk of personal freedom and repealing all the draconian laws passed by Labour, the party that measures success via the amount of legislation passed, not by whether it is appropriate. Unfortunately the reality has been the same old thing, Politians suddenly realising if they give us more freedom they will lose the power to bend things to their will.

    The irony is that this legislative mire that we are in, cowed as we are, is the very thing that has created our Crony Capitalist structure which is more akin to communism than real capitalism. Politians still believe that they can stimulate the economy by providing money. Surely they must have seen this does not work, has never worked, and never will work. Osborne could have a trillion pounds to spend, and still not get our economy working. 80 million will not be noticed by a single person other than to add to inflation.

    Just as we as individuals feel cowed the economy is cowed. Think about it.

    You had a piece about the railways with some suggestions for cutting costs. Whilst the fiddling at the edges would save some money, in no way are the railways private, and therefore will never work, as they are subject to the same idiot thinking where the government think they can spend some money and like a waving magic wand the railways and the economy will be fixed again. And whilst we have Politians thinking that spending is politically attractive, and take advice from “experts” who have vested interests and no outside interests, we will continue to get the same results as we have had over wind energy with the railways. Part of the role of Capitalism is to ensure that resources are allocated where they are needed. If we needed to electrify any more of our railways private capital would be lining up to get the job done. That it is not is the answer. (and yes we have a strategic need, but this is not one of those)

    John the very same measures we need to take to stop us feeling cowed, are the measures we need to unlock our economy and for larger companies to spend their cash mountains that will then stimulate the small and medium companies to employ more people. It’s not hard, it just needs those in power to stop believing they are so important. They are not, it is competition, innovation, protection of the individual, that are important, something the political class has completely forgotten.

  24. outsider
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Two GB golds and a silver – fantastic.

    • Winston Smith
      Posted August 6, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      Why? Fanatstic for whom?

      • outsider
        Posted August 6, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

        Dear Mr Smith,
        Well, I first meant fantastic for Mr Redwood. I cannot speak for him but get the impression that he greatly enjoyed the success of his fellow countrymen and countrywomen. Fantastic too for all the others who walked down to the riverside with him and cheered their team on. It is hard to imagine a more innocent and inclusive expression of patriotism, particularly for those on the spot but also for those listening and watching at the time, or later, on radio and television. Fantastic too for the athletes who won medals. Remember that only a small minority of GB competitors will win medals so it was also fantastic for those whose own dedication and efforts went unrewarded to share in the success of their colleagues.
        How fantastic it would have been for the original Winston Smith and his girlfriend. Yes, George Orwell famously said international sport was war without the shooting. But that is the point. How Winston would have enjoyed cheering alongside fans from rival countries, as Mr Redwood did, rather than living a life of forced poverty and oppresssion to prosecute the eternal war against Eastasia or whatever. Can’t see how you missed that.

    • Bob
      Posted August 6, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      What is the total cost to taxpayers for each of the medals awarded to “Team GB” ?

      • outsider
        Posted August 6, 2012 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

        Dear Bob,
        Unless I am corrected, there is great news for you. The staging of the Olympic Games is backed partly by UK taxpayers. But GB athletes have been supported by the National Lottery or by private sponsors (as for instance our Skeet shooting champion). I do not personally regard National Lottery funds as taxpayers’ money. Sir John Major set up the lottery-backed system precisely to support causes that were dear to many but could not justify public expenditure from general taxation. That is his legacy (bit like Harold Wilson and the Open University).
        Gordon Brown, when Chancellor, certainly treated Lottery funds as his money to spend and claim credit for. Perhaps you agree with him but I do not think his attitude was correct or honourable.
        We taxpayers are therefore in the happy position that, having spent public money on the Olympic overheads, we can enjoy the success of GB athletes as a cost-free return, thanks to our friends and neighbours choosing to buy lottery tickets. The Olympics would scarcely have cost less if there were no UK competitors, let alone no medal winners.

        So we can (nearly) all enjoy untainted pleasure at the fantastic successes of our athletes, as well as sharing in the disappointment of the many more who were beaten by stronger rivals from other countries in fair competition.

        • Bob
          Posted August 7, 2012 at 10:24 am | Permalink

          @Outsider

          Sorry to be a party pooper, but even if we won 100% of the available gold medals I don’t see how it would change my life in any way whatsoever, apart from the fact that as a London Council Tax payer I have had to subsidise the event, and as a taxpayer in general I have to pay the welfare dependent, who spend far too much of their benefits money on lottery tickets.

          If you see my post further up about the little girl who was left to die alone in an NHS bed you will understand why I feel the way I do, especially at the way they idealised the NHS at the opening ceremony.

  25. Bert Young
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Dr. JR , At least you got to see something . As an ex Olympic swimming coach – who would have loved to have seen the swimming live , it vexed me to see so many empty near the front seats . The commentators referred to this many times – mentioned they thought it was “disgusting”. Sponsors said the seats were nothing to do with them and suggested they had been allocated to the “Olympic Family” who failed to turn up. Surely this was a debacle of the first order and someone ought to suffer for it . Please ask Lord Seb Coe to look into it and ask him why someone like me could not get access to one of those seats at the pool .

  26. Hopper
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    So often the case – the leadership (broad meaning – in any organisation) is often not in tune with the foot soldiers on the ground who just want to get the job done.
    When I was working off shore in the oil industry – head office supplied me with books and books of regulations, all meaning. With updates arriving all the time.

    None of us stuck by them as head office had timescales too and we couldn’t have got the job done if we had. You just fell back on training, intuition and common sense.
    Glad that you enjoyed it – the rowers have done the UK proud.

  27. Winston Smith
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    Its important to note the correlation between the increase in Statism, Orwellian control of the people, the curtailment of personal freedom and the socialist corporatism government, more reminiscent of bygone communist nations, in the UK and the increased emphasis to fund amateur sporting achievement. Remember the dominance of the communist nations of the Olympics? Its all done with taxpayers money and lottery money. Considering the fact that wealthy, public school educated athletes account for many of the medal winners, its actully stealing from the poor taxpayer and gambler to fund the hobbies of the richer. That’s true of most lottery spending. The poorer members of society spend disproptionately more of their income on the lottery. Their money is mostly spent to fund the cultural, sporting interests and the social and moral causes of the wealthy.

    The LibLabCon political elite recognise the power of socialist propganda through national sporting achievement. Its too hard to buy success in professional sports, but quite easy in amateur sports where there is no market for spectators.

  28. James Matthews
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    Passed through Hyde Park earlier today (if you want to sit in a deck chair for an hour it will cost you £1.50, consequently rows of empty deck chairs, but that is by the way). Lots of enthusiastic and helpful volunteers assisting (mostly indigenous) tourists, so a good message there. Outside Buckingham palace an amiable crowd enjoying music from a military band. A couple of youngsters standing on the lower plinth of a lampost and another on a pile of unused temporary barriers in order to get a better view, doing, so far as I could see, no harm to anyone or anything. Enter Community Support Officer who deemed it necessary to cross the road to order them down. Was this really necessary? Was it actually within his powers? Would a policeman of the non-plastic variety have done it? I really don’t know, but I do know that forty years ago the answer to all three questions would have been no.

    I am all for street level policing, but can we please have it done by proper policeman and women (nods to PC PCs)? I know CSOs were introduced to save money and because beat bobbies had decided that they were too grand actually to walk a beat, but you get what you pay for (and you should do what you are employed for).

  29. backofanenvelope
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Much to my surprise I have watched quite a lot of the BBC coverage of the Olympics. One thing that increased my enjoyment was how rare it was to catch a glimpse of a politician and how often one saw the Royal Family – especially the younger ones.

  30. Ferdinand
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    I couldn’t agree more. We went to the rowing on Friday and had a similar enjoyable experience. The staff hired by G4S worked very well and were well chosen. All the Games makers were the best examples of how people can behave if allowed to.

  31. rose
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    Please can officialdom learn from the volunteers? Yes, please.

    And please can the public learn that it is possible to go by public transport?

    And please can public transport learn that it is possible to be co-operative, both with the passengers, and with other bits of public transport?

    There are a lot of lessons to be learned from this glorious and happy time in our country’s modern history.

    Finally, please can someone thank Jeremy Hunt?

  32. Trevor Butler
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    “It made me realise just how cowed we have all become by the endless petty minded officiousness in our daily lives in the snooper society.”

    Simple solution – fight them all the way – The faceless officials do not know how to cope with people who refused to be cowed – I have, in the last 5 years, taken on the DWP, Medway Council and Thames Valley Police to name a few who tried to impose their rules and fines on my family unjustifiably. Not to mention private clampers and DVLA collection agencies – I’m law abiding but I’m not going to permit petty Stalinist wannabes to make me or my family’s life a misery.
    Tomorrow I’m going after the Student Loan Company’s jugular – they are going to wish they HAD got it right the third time they tried!

  33. Pericles
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    The London Olympics, 2012, seem to be a resounding success thanks entirely to –

    the dedication of the World’s athletes ;
    the apparently unbounded enthusiasm and generosity of the spectators ;  and
    the hard work and good humour of the volunteers, servicemen and minor officials.

    Moreover it is hard to avoid the inference that the Games are succeeding despite the efforts of the organizers !

    ΠΞ

    • Robert Taggart
      Posted August 7, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

      Pericles, we already have a ‘first citizen… of Lundun’ – BoJo !
      As for being a ‘populist’ – we had such before – KeLi !!
      You have your name in history – what more do you want ?!!!

  34. Bazman
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    I thoroughly enjoyed the Olympics. I am not a big fan of sport but love BP, Visa, MacDonalds and Coca Cola.

    • Bazman
      Posted August 7, 2012 at 8:15 am | Permalink

      My wife is the complete opposite and likes Shell, Mastercard, Burger King and Pepsi Cola.

      • zorro
        Posted August 7, 2012 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

        Why does that not surprise me…..:-)

        zorro

  35. Bazman
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    People have complained about the heavy handedness of the LOCOG’s layers in suppressing dissent and criticisms of the Olympics and using threats of retribution to police their trademarks, but its all relative My wife lived in North Korea for twenty years before escaping to China, Russia and then to here in a lorry tyre. She says that compared to the government of Kim Jong III the IOC and the Tories are not that bad,

    • APL
      Posted August 8, 2012 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      Bazman: “She says that compared to the government of Kim Jong III the IOC and the Tories are not that bad.”

      Individual Tories are some of the best people I know. I even know one or two good but misguided Socialists.

      The problem is, the Tory party isn’t the aggregate of Tory rank and file opinion. It’s its own beast with its own agenda divorced from the rank and file.

  36. AndyC71
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    I went to a couple of things over the weekend, and too was very impressed with the standard and friendliness of the organisation at the sites and throughout London. There are legitimate questions over the cost of the whole thing, but I think the civil liberties critiscms have been overplayed.

  37. Captain Crunch
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    I saw Sir John Major was in the VIP area.

    Did you get a chance to catch up with him?

    • Bazman
      Posted August 8, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

      Can’t say I did. Though a number of years ago I did see him in the flesh open a Cafe’ called The Frog in a Cambridgeshire market town. The irony was not lost. He does in fact look like you would imagine, though a bit taller. Now run by Turks as an egg n chips cafe’. Feel free to join in the Ha Harrs! Captain.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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