Olympic ideals for sale, only £2.99...
WELL, at least I can pinpoint precisely the moment I officially fell out of love with the Olympics.
I know the torch relay is wending its way towards us, I know that the world will be watching as the glorified global sports day kicks off in a few weeks time, but my regard for the whole circus is now deader than Pierre de Coubertin’s dog.
And that happened at 7,21pm on Friday night. How can I be so precise? It’s like this...
It wasn’t a sudden conversion from eager acolyte of the five rings to purse-lipped questioner of all things Lord Coe has devoted his life to over the last decade, to be fair.
Athletes making the most of chemical assistance, corrupt blazers trousering bribes as they swan around the world, the corporate stranglehold that means you can apparently be shot on sight if you sip the wrong soft drink or produce the wrong credit card anywhere within 500 yards of an Olympic site – they’ve all served to chip away at my respect for the idea the good baron half-inched from the trusty yeomen of Much Wenlock all those years ago.
So on Friday evening I was standing patiently in the queue at the supermarket and looking for something to while away the wait as the old dear two trolleys ahead dug deep into her purse for all those unexpected requirements of a shopping trip, like the means to pay.
There near the check out was a display of official Olympic tat, and my mood darkened as I wondered whether Games greats of generations long gone – the names Emile Zatopek, Abebe Bikila, and Jim Thorpe sprang to mind, but Jesse Owens and Steve Redgrave will serve just as well to represent the ranks of the champions who have earned our respect – would have made of a range of official merchandise that included items like tea-towels and oven gloves cheapening their achievements.
But then my eye fell on a display of commemorative coins which have been struck to mark London 2012.
If you have a mind to, there’s a whole range of 50p pieces each carrying the logo of a particular sporting discipline. There are 29 in all, if you are the sort that likes to get the set.
Apparently they’ve been in circulation for ages – to be honest, I hadn’t even noticed until I clocked the mass display at the end of the aisle.
But get this – I know the world financial system has gone a bit pear-shaped, but I’m pretty sure that any 50p coin is never going to be worth more than 50p. If it was worth a lot more than its face value, the Greek ambassador would be collecting them from every taverna in the country, melting them down and sending them home to help out.
But these 50p pieces, by the simple addition of a bit of cardboard packaging, retail for – wait for it - £2.99.
I don’t condemn anyone willing to pay six times the face value for a coin because it’s got a fancy design on it. They’ve got a problem, they need help.
But the shameless hucksters who put them on sale in the first place, and named the price? Sorry, that’s the straw that broke this camel’s back. The tea towel was bad enough, but the 50p rip off means that my personal Olympic flame has now gone out.