Sunday, September 9, 2012

Olympic Summer

As I think I've said before, I guess that I fit well into the class of people who have come to be called "Grumpy Old Men". Especially first thing in the morning I can be a real pleasure to know. On top of that, I'm a confirmed Northerner. I'm not sure that word really means anything unless you are a Brit, though I rather suspect that most countries use a similar sobriquet to identify the fact that most countries have a region that sees itself as being ignored by those who live in the more prosperous, governing region. For me that has always meant that I have something of a disregard for London, the Home Counties and the South in general. Nor am I alone in this feeling.

So it's not surprising that at the start of the year I was not looking forward to the Olympic and Paralympic Games. I guess I saw them as being "London's Games". I guess that there was more than a little pique at the feeling, widely held around the Manchester Area that we were blocked from bidding for the Olympics following our very successful Commonwealth Games. There was no support at all from the Government for a Manchester bid.

I cannot be certain how or why that attitude changed. It started, without doubt, during the Olympic Torch Relay that wound its way round and round the whole country. I didn't even go to see the relay, though it came very close to where I'm sitting now. However, watching the crowds who came out to support the relay, I found my attitude changing.

But it was the Games themselves, the effort put into everything by both ablebodied and disabled athletes that has really changed my attitude. The unbelievable success by both teams touches me on my pride button. I could never have done what any of these athletes have done. The number of times that I have found myself with tears in my eyes watching Mo Farrar win the 5000 metres, or Sarah Storey winning her 4th Gold Medal. I could list moment after moment like that. It's not pride for me, it's pride for my country. It sort of makes me think about Britain.

I know we used to have an empire, but that is long, long gone. Geographically we are a small and rather insignificant group of islands off the north west corner of Europe. In land area, and population, we shrink into insignificance compared to Germany & France, never mind the giant countries like China, the USA, India &c, &c. But look at the medal tables for both sets of games and you realise that Britain, as a country, is still punching well above our weight.

Little things have made a significant difference for me. I think that the Post Office painting a postbox gold in the home town of every gold medal winner was inspired and has played its part in tying the country together. Admittedly, there is no gold postbox in Glossopdale, but you cannot have everything. I just want to finish tonight by quoting Sir Stephen Hawking who said, at the opening of the Paralympics, "Look at the stars and not at your feet."

Good night and God Bless!


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