Olympic distractions

Posted on August 5, 2012


‘Faster, Higher, Stronger’ – Olympic motto

I have to beg for your forbearance this week.  Although I have finished reading the breathtakingly good  A Golden Age, I can’t settle to write the review.  I think it’s the rather disconcerting sense of being British yet not feeling embarrassed that’s thrown me. To understand, it’s important to know that British people live in a perpetual expectation of disappoint.   We are, famously, gold medal winners at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.   We live under a grey cloud of optimism, simultaneously hopeful and stoic.  You can always spot a Brit, they’re the ones at the picnic with sun cream and raincoats and a spare jumper just in case.   To a (wo)man, we expected that the opening ceremony would be bowel tighteningly awful. It wasn’t. It was part political, part humorous, part emotional and totally brilliant – well apart from the perished welly that is Paul McCartney.   We allowed ourselves a small pat on the back.  Phew, that wasn’t too bad, we thought.  Ah, but we’ve still got the deep joy of two weeks of high expectation of gold medals that we wont get, to make us feel truly British again.   But as I write, we have medal upon medal, record upon record.  What are we to make of this?   This really isn’t 5-day cricket.   People are waving Union Jacks without being seen as Nationalist. Singing the National Anthem, loudly and in tune.  Our only solace is that the closing ceremony will be dreadful.   There’s bound to be more McCartney to give us a comfortable cringe.

And now back to business.   I’ve chosen the book for Barbados – Zan McDowell’s Eating Lizzy (I liked the title).  And for Belgium I’ve decided to read something by George Simenon.  I’m leaving the title open at the moment as I’m going to have a jolly rummage through the local charity shops to see if I can find something second hand.   In between, my friend Yegor is going to write a review of something (to be decided) from Belarus.