Thursday, June 21, 2012

Take that, Beijing


I think I heard right. I did, didn't I? Please, God, let it be true...

Danny Boyle has planned to feature allotments as part of the Olympics opening ceremony.

Is there anything more British than the allotment? The creation of tiny pockets of ordered green chaos, where city folk get to play at being farmers? Once you hear that so-and-so has an allotment, your whole attitude towards them shifts, however badly you may have considered them before. No-one can ever be truly grumpy with an allotment owner. The very word - roll it around, now, on your tongue - is up there with pastry-brush, sock drawer and topiary.

Allotments suggest tradition, yet impermanence. A rugged coping sort of attitude, but in an organised, nit-picky kind of fashion. A stand-by-your-beds fingers-on-lips-no-talking approach, fuelled by an enormous sense of the absurd. In short, allotments are quintesentially British.




I hope there are allotments. But if there aren't, please can we have a silly red phone box, one with the sort of door than gives one a hernia to open and that always smells of loose change and wee? Or perhaps a series of mini-roundabouts, or a larger one with a pointless lump of mangled metal puporting to be modern art, that someone has hung a few hanging baskets from in order to cover the obscene graffiti? Could we have a long queue of disappointed people awaiting something greasy and rancid from a roadside burger van, washed down by a mug of scalding tea with the teabag still in it? (Sorry - 'in which the tea bag is still in' - no, wait - 'in which there is still a teabag')? Can we have a radio-phone-in about the pointlessness of the monarchy, followed immediately by a parade in their honour, involving the SAME PEOPLE??

And over it all can we please, please have, in fact this is so obvious now I come to think of it that I'm almost sure it's one of the aces up Danny Boyle's sleeve, if not, have this one for free mate - can we have, in a massive nod to Pink Floyd's glory days, a giant inflatable Stephen Fry floating gaily high above the fake clouds, then set free to drift above the London skyline until coming to an untimely end when punctured by The Shard.

Just in case you need any more ideas, Danny, here's a few I prepared earlier. See what you can do.


Iconography, UK

In this we trust:
Buses will arrive at any time
other than the one in the timetable.
The seating on all public transport will be rationed.
The weather will disappoint
or will appear on the front page of the tabloids
under the headline, ‘Phew, what a scorcher!’
The female newsreader will be both younger and more attractive
than her male counterpart,
unless she is on the radio.
Grammar pedants will wage war on incorrectly applied apostrophes
and any sentence at the end of which there is a preposition.
Parents will claim that certain dietary choices will cause pectoral hirsuitism;
and that turbulent air currents will create the conditions for facial paralysis.
At the Post Office, there will always be a queue of politely-spaced people
who will collectively require three forms, the dispatch of two parcels,
and several books of second-class stamps, which will be pushed under the plastic grill with no good grace by someone who always wanted to work
in a library.

In this we trust: Punch will never attend relationship counselling with Judy
Alice will forever fall tumbling down the rabbit-hole
The answer to all our pain and gnawing moments of self-doubt
will be a good strong cup of tea.
Telephone boxes will always be red, despite evidence to the contrary;
Similarly police constables will wear odd pointy hats, like the one in Noddy.

In this we trust: For St Patrick the Irish will wear the green, for St David the Welsh will wear a daffodil. Scots will fly the flag for St Andrew and raise a glass to Robbie Burns; whilst St George’s Day will be marked by a muted scout parade and a phone-in to radio 2 about the diffidence of the English.

In this we trust: at occasions of collective self-parody we will all join together in singing
‘And did those feet, in ancient times,’
As if we understood it
As if we believed it.
Meanwhile, at the far end of the Kingdom,
The Angel will stand with his rusted arms outstretched,
both revered and loathed in equal measure;
waiting for us to turn in his direction
to greet the New Jerusalem.




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