I have very little interest in sport. I put that down partly to the way it was taught at school, where it was like an ordeal rather than a pleasure. I don't have a problem with other people enjoying sport, but I do hate hype in all its forms, and we are being subjected to a lot of pro-Olympic hype as the build-up to the damp squib of the century begins.
I am particularly incensed by the claim that the Olympics will be a showcase for the best of Britain. It will be the best in an X-Factor or Britain's Got Talent sort of way: they'll trot out a few stereotypes, although they'll call them "icons" (whatever that means), along with some superannuated pop stars and a couple of gullible current ones in an attempt to keep the "kidz" on board. The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games ( LOCOG)'s invitation to Keith Moon was particularly crass, proving that, as those tasked with selecting what represents Britain, they really aren't up to the job.
As most people reading this blog will know, Britain is a country with distinctive brewing traditions that haven't been entirely swept away by the pseudo-pilsner beers that have taken over most of the world, and yet LOCOG has accepted a £10 million bribe from Heineken to have "sole pouring rights" for the Games. So the best of British will be represented in beer terms by a tenth-rate Dutch facsimile of a Czech beer.
The archery will be taking place at Lords cricket ground where the beer concession is held by Marston's. During the Olympics, the handpumps will be removed, and they're even covering up the portrait of cricketer Matthew Hoggard, Marston’s "beer ambassador". The only compromise there is that drinkers will be able to buy John Smith's Smooth under the name "British Bitter" while Strongbow will be called "Cider". Another missed opportunity, as there's a brewery in Wiltshire called Archers!
A Heineken spokesperson said that many venues are
not suitable for cask beer as they are either temporary bars or lack the
necessary cellar facilities, which is really quite feeble. CAMRA has been running real ale bars in such circumstances for decades, and there is an increasing number of commercial companies who specialise in temporary real ale bars: I've come across several at music festivals, and they work very well. It's just an excuse, of course: Heineken simply want to sell their own products, and as they've coughed up that £10 million sweetener, in a way I don't blame them. No, the real villain of the piece is the gaffe-prone LOCOG, which chose a single supplier of beer on the size of the bribe, rather than its degree of Britishness. But then, given how LOCOG has been profligate with our money - it's already spent nearly all of the contingency fund intended for emergencies - I suppose they needed every penny they could lay their hands on. Thinking about it, perhaps that is representative of modern Britain after all.