By Amanda Rodrigues of Show and Stay
Step aside all sightseers and those theatre break! London 2012 is about to begin and not everyone’s excited about it…
The Olympic Special of Absolutely Fabulous earlier this week really sums up a lot of attitudes towards London 2012. When the long-suffering Saffy asked her eccentric mother Eddie if she planned on getting tickets to the Olympics opening ceremony, Eddie replied “Yes Sweetie, when is it?” Clearly agitated by her mother’s ignorance, she answered, “Mum it’s Friday! How could you have missed it? It’s been advertised everywhere!” To which Eddie replies in spectacular fashion, “It’s been everywhere for the last 5 bloody years!”
Rightly so, the golden streets of London have been awash with Olympic 2012 insignia; the media has been buzzing with scandal, gossip and anticipation; and politicians have welcomed the tremendous event with pound signs in their eyes and as a chance to show off our great nation. It can’t be denied, that whilst the likes of David Beckham, Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister and Lord Coe (to name but a few) have all been very forthcoming in stressing how important hosting the Olympics will be for tourism, morale and the economy, there are still some cynics that either aren’t convinced, or may just need to be swayed.
If like Eddie you’ve been unaware of the major sporting event, or you’ve been living in a cave, this summer will see the climax of years of planning come to a head as the London 2012 Olympics finally kick off this week! Here are a few short debates to help you decide which side of the hurdle you stand on.
1 – “Hosting the Olympics will create a huge number of jobs”
True, the building of the sensational Olympic Village has indeed brought a lot of construction work to this part of London. The East End is extremely high in unemployment, and officials fear that the lack of long-term jobs will not be enough to help the struggling area in the long run. On the other hand, the huge scandal surrounding the G4S boss failing to employ a sufficient number of security staff gave the impression that CEO Nick Buckles wasn’t bothered. The fiasco was eventually rescued when Police and Army were called in to make up the numbers. While Olympic officials were grateful, it’s a shame that so many private jobs had to be given to the already employed public sector. Despite all of this however, LOCOG (London Organising Committee for the Olympic (and Paralympic) Games) do assure that even the thousands of short-term jobs that have been created will be a significant boost for the area, offering a once-in-a-lifetime work experience that will look great on anybody’s CV.
2 – “Its reminds us of what it is to be British”
It can’t be denied that 2012 really is the year to be instilled with a sense of national pride. Not only the UK, but the whole world welcomed the Queen’s spectacular Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Not to mention that the Tour de France saw its first British winner in the entire history of the epic race. And, while not quite the same success story, Wimbledon 2012 saw the noble Andy Murray become the first Briton to make it to the Men’s Singles Final since 1938! On a different note, the UK is the world’s forerunner to legalise gay marriage, and even hosted the fabulous WorldPride 2012 festival in London earlier in July, with officials saying that our great nation is the most welcoming to the LGBT community and other forms of diversity in the whole world. And finally, who can forget the colossal musical titan Adele winning SIX awards at this year’s Grammys? Now show me a cynic who doesn’t feel even a little proud.
3 – “It’s going to cost the UK a fortune! We’re in a recession”
Again, this is also true. Some critics have claimed that the UK taxpayer has paid too much towards the cost of the Olympics, with the bill escalating into billions of taxpayers’ pounds. On the plus side, we’ve not spent nearly as much as the whopping £40bn that Beijing did when they hosted the Olympics in 2008. However, the money that has been spent will indeed guarantee urban regeneration in some of London’s poorest and most deprived areas, not to mention the long-term benefit of the provision of 5000 homes once the Olympic Village has been converted. The massive increase in tourism will definitely offset any losses as well!
4 – “London’s transport is a nightmare at the best of times”
This I can’t argue too much; congestion charges, tube strikes and traffic are the bane of most Londoners’ and out-of-towners’ travel when in the city. However, the government commissioned a channel tunnel link from Stratford to Kings Cross, increased the capacity on the Jubilee Line and extended the DLR, not to mention investing a hefty £1bn pound to spend on general improvements and repairs! And of course this will all stay afterwards as well, so stop moaning!
Whether you’re a lover of sport, a true Londoner or live out in the sticks where the realm of the Great Smoke is just a far off and distant land, you can’t deny that the excitement and hype surrounding the celebrations is intoxicating. With the wealth of British talent and imagination that has gone into making the London Olympics, there’s no doubt that this will be a huge celebration and an unforgettable event.
That said, if you still aren’t bothered, then you can always skip the East End, head over to the safety of the West End, and book a London show instead.
This post was written by the providers of London theatre breaks by rail, Show and Stay.