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I am out of London and damn glad to be so

“So the Games have managed to achieve what even Hitler failed to accomplish with the Blitz: the total evacuation of London’s working population. Well, not quite total. There are plenty of poor devils who are still trying to scratch a living in the wasteland of empty restaurants, shops and streets. The trouble is that the the usual customers – the great mass of people who normally commute into central London every day – have been terrorised into staying away by a hugely successful Transport for London promotional campaign.”

Janet Daley, in the Daily Telegraph.

She writes about how so many Londoners have fled the country. I am one of them. More than 7 months ago, dreading what I feared might be the impact of the Games, I booked two weeks’ holiday in southwestern France, staying in the lovely small town of Marseillan, in the Languedoc region (nearest big city is Montpellier). I am actually doing some work down here although I have handed most responsibility to a colleague. My wife and I are having a great time – the weather is glorious without being raspingly hot; the food is amazing and good value; the locals are very pleasant; and last but not least, there is a most gratifying lack of Brits to remind me of home. I do check in on the internet occasionally, but although this might strike some as unsporting, I just haven’t got the “Olympic bug” at all. Yes, I thought parts of the opening ceremony were fun (glad to see Brunel honoured as the great Victorian civil engineer he was), and thought the James Bond routine was hilarious, and was not even all that annoyed about the National Health Service propaganda. (I thought the bit about the Industrial Revolution was actually not bad – all that celebration of carbon emissions and molten steel! But I am just not all that enthused. The greatest sporting festival this year has come and gone (the European football championships), and the Tour de France was also a gloriously unexpected highlight of the year. And as Brian says, there was also the cricket. Always the cricket.

By the way, Bradley Wiggins, winner of the Tour, cycled past where I am now staying, and the locals worship the guy. He has become a bit of a cult in France. They like his character, guts and behaviour.

My blogging output is going to be light for the next 10 days. You see, they sell cheap but excellent red wine here by the litre.

14 comments to I am out of London and damn glad to be so

  • The greatest sporting festival this year has come and gone (the European football championships)

    Oh, come off it. Given that synchronised diving is an Olympic event, a soccer tournament is pretty redundant, I would have thought.

    God bless cricket though.

  • Paul Marks

    By your choice of location (and activity) during this time of the London farce, you have proved yourself a wise and cultured man.

    My best wishes to you and your family.

  • Yup Mr. Pearce. Completely agree.

    Given the likelihood of terminal problems at Canary Wharf, I put contracting on hold and decamped to the far east for 6-months.

    Returning in September when things have returned to normal.

    This whole 3-week school sports day will be yet another reason why Q3 2012 GDP figures will show a further drop.

    Still can’t really blame the Cobbleition for this one as it was started under Labour’s shift.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Michael, I thought the amount of cheating in the Euros was not as bad as some other competitions. And the Spanish performance at the end was team sport at its best.

  • To cut back on the snark a bit, yes, the Spanish really were terrific in the Euro championship. This I will concede. (On other non-Olympic sport, the tennis season has been excellent this year, too. We go into the US Open with Djokovic, Nadal and Federer having one major each, and the final big event of the year deciding who is best).

    Back on the Olympics, it’s been interesting following them in both the Australian media and the British media. There is clear disappointment in both places about their team’s performances so far. The Australian sports media seems to be close to discussing just who should be hung from lampposts and when, whereas the BBC is doing the “That’s a fine bronze medal performance from Sally there…” schtick quite well for now.

    I think the bigger story though is the extent to which the Chinese team seem to be doing their best to imitate East Germany circa 1982, however. I am not sure this is necessarily a good role model to follow, but they are doing their best. The doping accusations are getting a fair amount of coverage in the (generally self-censoring) press. I suspect that in the village and amongst Olympic participants/officials etc, there is little else being discussed.

  • David Gillies

    There are distinct advantages to being an emigrant Briton most of the time, but right now the fact I am 8,000km away from this ghastly, preposterous farrago gives me even more satisfaction than usual. The Olympics are a neo-Fascist celebration of the worst sort of Jingoistic nationalism, the IOC are corrupt on a Nigerian/Latin American dictator level, LOCOG should be burnt at the stake, the Zil lanes should have provoked riots, the £20 billion pissed up the wall could have paid for both the aircraft carriers twice over, virtually all of the events are tedious beyond measure, the security precautions have turned London into Festung Britannia and the poor benighted taxpayers of Britain will be paying for it for 30 years. A fan I am not.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    As I keep saying to people, there is a lot to be said for having the main summer games permanently in Greece (probably best not to do so in August, for the heat, though). They could use the money; the historic connections are obvious; the organisation running it could be kept at arms’ length from any country – including Greece – and we would not have the corrupt grandstanding that goes with the bidding process.

    The Winter Olympics could still rotate around the world. For some reason, this event seems to be less dodgy although I am sure there are exceptions.

    I also think we should dramatically the number of events to a core: athletics, gymnastics, martial arts (boxing, judo, karate, etc), swimming. I might allow cycling, sailing and rowing. But football and tennis, for example, should not be in there – they have their own supreme contests (World Cup, the majors). What next: golf?

  • In answer to that question, yes, gold is in fact going to be an Olympic sport from 2016.

  • Malcolm

    I had much the same idea, and am writing this from a little to the north-west of you (nearest town Marmande, about half an hour from Bordeaux). And what an excellent plan it turned out to be.


  • PersonFromPorlock

    I want to caution all here about the repeated use of the phrase “should be hung from lamp poles.” It’s hanged.

  • Laird

    PfP, I’ve given up complaining about that. I just make sure to use the correct term myself.

  • The distinction between hanged and hung is not an especially useful one (although a few commentators claim otherwise). It is, however, a simple one and easy to remember. Therein lies its popularity. If you make a point of observing the distinction in your writing you will not thereby become a better writer, but you will spare yourself the annoyance of being corrected for having done something that is not wrong.

    (Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage, 1994)

    This isn’t a simple case of a past tense being different from a past participle, but a situation in which there are two different past participle forms of the same verb. If you do accept that there is a useful distinction, the “hanged” form is used principally to refer to the case of an execution, and is used by itself, ie “He was hanged” without further embellishment.

    However, for all cases of “x was hung from y”, hung is the standard form, not hanged. That includes a person being hung from a lamppost.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    My point was droll rather than grammatical, but as a matter of fact it is infinitely better for a guy to be hung than hanged. Not the same things at all.

  • Laird

    Doesn’t that really depend upon who the guy is, PFP? (I.e., infinitely better for whom?) And, I suppose, upon the intention behind the hanging.