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London’s Olympic Fever: How We Caught It


Embattled media mogul Rupert Murdoch recently tweeted that an economic hangover is coming and we Londoners should enjoy things while they last. Like most advice from discredited billionaires, his comments were ignored with typical British apathy. After all who thinks about the hangover at the height of party? Right now London has invited the world to it’s living room, the weather Gods are feeling generous and the nation is getting used to watching some folks who rock lycra so well it surely isn’t legal.

The build up for the Olympics has been a little like a wedding invite you received with ambivalent. But rather than irritating emails from obsessive bridesmaids to ‘please remember it’s a cash bar,’ the London Mayor has been booming through every Tube station the warnings of an impending travel meltdown.

Then as the fireworks cracked over the Olympic Opening Ceremony the pulse of the city began to race like a 100m finalist’s heartbeat. Even that negative friend who would complain when they’ve won the lottery has an unfamiliar smile on their face. They caught it, it has descended, Olympic fever.

The Austerity Olympics

It’s no coincidence that London last hosted the Olympic Games during the lean recovery years after the Second World War. No fancy sports drinks then, just a post-war rationing orange segment and a pat on the back from spectators in £3 seats. In 1948 the BBC paid £1,000 for full broadcasting rights and this year? The same amount seems to have been spent on tanning booths for the company’s presenters, most of whom are channelling a frightening gold medal glow. But I digress. Internet bandwith collapses during work meetings – or was that just me? – as us Londoners click “update” on the medals table from our phones and laptops. We throw up fist pumps at our desks, mumbling how ‘psyched’ we are to finishing our expenses form but really we’re rooting on an Olympian. The United Kingdom is in pride overdrive and suddenly a patriotic Facebook update that doesn’t seem abnormal. The formerly torturous TV commercials for the official foot cream/nasal spray/lawnmower brand of the Olympic games now makes us so emotional, we’re weeping into our Gabby Douglas cereal.

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