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Game Over

I've just spent two hours practicing music, sat in my house on my own. I don't have a sponsor, I don't have public or private backing. I don't even have a particularly good instrument. I've kept my interest, if not my technique, for over twenty years. Throughout I have had zero support. I certainly don't have an invitation to an 11 billion pound musical event with the eyes of the nation on me, and I certainly don't have the apparent hopes and dreams of people that seem lacking in their own lives. 

I'm not here to denigrate what other people do, but the Olympics seemed (past tense at last) to be hell bent on making so much more out of a mere sports competition than anything else. Would we have gotten so excited and 'inspired' by the performance of 'our' athletes had the games been hosted in Paris? 

Last night's finale was a surreal exposition of style of substance. How can one fail to be impressed by it: a ton of money went into the event so inevitably it will be suitably gaudy. Nothing went technically wrong, but then why should it? It wasn't performed by complete amateurs nor put together on a shoestring. That however doesn't mean it was of any cultural worth. How does the history of British music, with all it's wonderful quirks and eccentricities exported around the world to great acclaim, get distilled down to a few current populist acts, a crusty old rocker and the fucking Spice Girls who haven't even released any product (which is all they are) in years? Where was the progressive rock? Where was the punk, the acid house, the drum and bass, the duybstep, the NWOBHM, where was Hendrix, whose career blossomed because he was brought to the UK, where was Cream, Zep, Sabbath, Purple, Tull, of course anyone with any sense would have avoided being associated with this corporate festival. Instead we get Russell Brand miming to I AM The Walrus and the Kaiser Chiefs covering the Who. David Bowie was teased but turned out to be a Phillip Green-inspired fashion show for those blood diamonds of British culture: Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss! Extraordinary.

None of this represents my experience or taste in music or culture. None of this has any influence or bearing on my life. Yet the radio was alive this morning with talk of how the games has lifted the nation. How? Seriously, how? We are being told these sports people have done something for us when it's actually the other way around: we paid for them and their stage of competition. In response they have done...what? Where is the legacy supposed to come from? How many of these people will use their platform to speak against the unfairness of the WCA or the WP; how many will go on to castigate the press that loves them so for its treatment of the unemployed and the sick? Not many I should think.

This is just sport. It's not a product we can use, it's not a service we can use, it's not cultural or artistic. It's just people doing a physical activity as hard as they can, which is something that's intrinsically a negative thing. It's about ego. I'm better at running or throwing than you. Well so what? It's absurd as me playing music to be the best musician in the world; what does that mean? Who decides what's best - hopefully not the people that booked the Spice Girls! 

The only reason sports, or rather some sports, are regarded so highly is because there's money to be made. Football for instance is big business. Half the events in the Olympics I doubt most people will have never heard of, and how many schools will now feature fencing on the curriculum! If it wasn't for the fact that someone, Sky in most cases, can make a few bucks then these new heroes of ours that are somehow mending the collective insecurity of this bizarre society would be no different than me sitting in my room playing an instrument, the rest of the world oblivious to my effort. Yet that effort will continue and perhaps because it's unrewarded I, and others doing the same as me, might be doing something more worthwhile than people that get paid by dodgy corporate interests. Perhaps!

PS: Tonight Channel 4, in what appears to be an attempt to undo the good work they did with their ATOS investigation, is broadcasting another Dispatches investigation into benefits. This time, however, it's the 'top tricks' used by 'scroungers' to cheat the dole. It's not looking good.

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