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15 August 2008


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What an excellent article, D. Thanks for the link. I'm trying to keep my life an Olympics-free zone.

Normally I'd agree with Alice Miles but I've just found out that Rebecca Adlington, who won the gold, actually comes from Mansfield, where we're living.

As this isn't a town where young people grow up expecting to go far the publicity is quite a good thing and makes positive headlines for a change.

More food for thought

Can't resist adding that Rebecca has now won a second gold medal (this time for the 800m freestyle) making her the most successful British swimmer of the last 100 years and breaking swimming's longest standing world record (set by Janet Evans of the United States in 1989).

The local paper is beside itself and I can't help feeling that, in this instance, it will do more for the town's young people than any literacy campaign, however well meaning.


I thought D and I were in the minority when we discussed this this morning and agreed that the Olympics were obsolete - all about financial and political manipulation. Good to read a Times article that makes, to me, a worthy suggestion about an alternative way to spend the money.

Pamela - it may be a minority but that minority is definitely growing. And questioning the eye-watering amounts of money that are spent on the Olympic Games is not synonymous with questioning the value of sporting activities or individual sporting achievements. The nephew of an old friend of ours won a very well-deserved gold medal at Sydney and everyone was immensely proud of him. So, great to see young people like Rebecca Adlington doing well this year - although there was, apparently, a lot of huffing and puffing in certain quarters (eg retired colonels in the shires) about the fact that she was leaning over and chatting to her bronze-winning chum all the way through the national anthem when they were on the podium! I suppose it's seen as de rigueur to be standing ramrod straight and choking back the tears!

The Olympics have now come so far from their starting point in terms of ideals as to be almost unrecognisable. International corporations just see the Games as one huge business opportunity; governments have their own agenda. We are still four years away from the 2012 Games and the UK budget has already spiralled out of control. If it carries on at this rate, we will be in hock for years to come by the time the Games are upon us, which has been the experience of every country that has hosted the Games in the recent past.

As one commentator pointed out, one of the reasons our Olympic entrants are doing relatively well at these Games is because of the unprecedented injections of cash being pumped into sports facilities and training in the UK in the run-up to 2012. (Despite which, we have an escalating problem of childhood obesity.) A similar pattern has been observed in other host countries. Much of this is, sadly, money that had previously been earmarked for other community activities and facilities. What will happen post-2012 when all that extra cash for sport dries up?

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Thought for life

  • The House of Breath, William Goyen
    We are the carriers of lives and legends - who knows the unseen frescoes on the private walls of the skull?

Thinking about . . .

  • Daniel Klein, Travels with Epicurus
    I too listen to music more and more. Throughout my life, music has stirred me more than any other art form, and now, in old age, I find myself listening to it almost every evening, usually alone, for hours at a time.
  • Julia Blackburn, Thin Paths
    I began writing because I liked to write things down. I learnt foreign languages because they seemed to enter my head by a process of osmosis.
  • Joan Bakewell, Stop the Clocks
    I live contentedly alone. It's better that way and I am often thoughtful about what has been and what might have been. There are many like me.
  • Patti Smith, M Train
    Oh to be reborn within the pages of a book.
  • Patti Smith, M Train
    Why is it that we lose the things we love, and things cavalier cling to us and will be the measure of our worth after we’re gone?
  • Judith Kerr, Observer Magazine, 22 November 2015
    I don't believe in God. I find it much easier to believe in ancestors. I like to imagine they are pointing us in the right direction.

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