19 July 2012

What Olympics?

Somewhere along the line the message seems to have mutated into something completely different.

The first Olympic games were a time for sportsmanship, reconciliation and endeavour.  Hostilities were suspended, wars put on hold for a few days and warriors left their shields and swords at home in order to compete on the track.  No gold or silver prizes, only accolades and laurel wreaths.  Honour and glory attach to the victor's name, nothing else.

Today, instead of wars being suspended, they are intensified.  Crimes are committed against not just the Olympic spirit but against the very athletes themselves.  And on Olympic grounds as well.  These days, warriors do not leave their armour at home.  They take it with them into the games, to "protect" athletes and audience.  The army patrols the streets as if we lived under foreign occupation.  Honour as a prize has been sullied by the offering of cash, lucrative deals, exclusive rights, sponsorship, and monopolistic diktats.

Now here's a radical thought.  Organisers have no right to call the Olympic Games by that name.  Because there is not one atom remaining of the original Olympic ideal.  No connection whatsoever between 776 BCE and 2012.  How should we rename them?  Barclays Athletics Meet?  McDonald's Jamboree?  At least these are more honest.

10 July 2012

Best foot forward

The hosiery department in the city centre store is decorated with huge posters of Manhattan, depicting sky scrapers and concrete jungles.  The connection with legwear is a bit obtuse.  After all, ladies all over the world wear hosiery and not just in Manhattan.  Why should a Munich store adorn its walls with pics of Manhattan?  Why not calming, Alpine scenes?  Probably because The Other is what sells tights and socks.  The association with the Exotic gets us dipping into our purses to splash out on new tights.  Pictures of home are too mundane, too dull, too .... ordinary.  

I bet if you visit a New York department store you'll see posters of (OK, maybe not Munich) Paris and London.  Just the right thing to lend an air of chic, European elegance to a new packet of tights.

p.s. legs belong to someone else

8 July 2012

The various and devious ways of railway managers

It is a rare and wondrous occasion when a suburban train arrives at the time stated in the timetable, and even more wondrous when it drops you at your destination when you expect it to.  I have abandoned my little timetable book at home; it seems a waste of time consulting it when the contents therein bear little connection to reality

I sense that administrators are becoming more duplicitous in how they present delays/cancellations to the travelling public.  For instance, if a train is cancelled the station announcer doesn't just come out and say "Sorry, people, the 13.00 is cancelled."  Instead he says "The 13.00 train will arrive 20 minutes late."  The thing is, however, that trains run every 20 minutes, so does that mean that at 13.20 two trains will arrive, the delayed 13.00 together with the punctual 13.20?  I think you know the answer to that question.

Another psychological trick is to unplug the departure board.  Here the great unknown is at play.  The only certain information you are given is which are the next two trains, and you know which one the first is because it's already standing right in front of you in the station.  Thanks a lot!  Will your desired train be arriving in the next twenty minutes?  Beats me!  Just stick around and wait a while.

Railway managers are skilled masters at redefining our concept of time.  The departure board boldly announces your train will arrive in one minute (an optimistic assumption, if ever I saw one).  That digit "1" stubbornly remains in place on the board for at least seven minutes - I know, I've timed it with my ordinary, quartz-operated wristwatch.  I am led to the conclusion that I must be stuck in a time warp in another dimension. 

Still, I wouldn't change places with London commuters at this particular point in time, what with the Olympics and all that.  I've read that Transport for London (what was wrong with the old name, London Transport?) is handing out pearls of wisdom for commuters stuck in a Tube station in the bowels of the city: if your train is late/delayed a good alternative is to walk.  Oh, how droll!  Let's all traipse home across the city to the counties.  I wonder how Boris will be getting around during the Games?
Creative Commons License
Squeaky Door by Elizabeth Chairopoulou is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.