Friday, 27 July 2012

NOlympics 2012

Living in Stamford Hill you wouldn't think that little more than a couple of miles away the biggest show on earth is about kick off in under 24 hours. The top end of the Amish Kapoor sculpture may be just about visible from our unlawful lofts but believing prevents you from seeing. Zaha Hadid could have designed the foundations rather than the roof of the Aquatics Centre and we would have been equally unimpressed. And as for a minute's silence, you first must know about the dead before you can commemorate them.

True we've had some new pavements on Clapton Common which may, or may not, be part of an Olympic street improvement scheme, buses with an orange streak and Games 2012 sign ply the roads while low-flying helicopters ply the skies but that, I'm afraid, is as far as it goes. The games might as well be taking place on the Comoros Islands and we would not have been much the poorer.

For a start the Opening Ceremony is on Friday evening at 9pm which means that even if you take in Shabbos with the stragglers, schleppers, holies and dishevelled you still won't get even 5 minutes' worth of Danny Boyle's reputed masterpiece. Those chachomim had to programme it pinkt late on a Friday afternoon and this after the torch passed our area on a Shabbos. I mean just how insensitive can you get. And will Boyle include rear extensions and ceramic floor tiles to represent our contribution to this green and pleasant land? Slumdog, schmumdog, geb nor aher a millionaire.

This may all be good for a laugh but truth said it's just how we want it. I may, and do, find it all very sad and upsetting that we must keep ourselves so absolutely apart but I cannot pretend to represent my brethren on this point. It also ain't gonna change any time soon either. We want to keep to ourselves and there's as yet no law to stop us. There will be many who will share the glorious and uplifting moments of the games with their children on the web (TV is not for sharing) regardless of what the bumpkins will ban but as far as official or even semi-semi-official participation in any part, forget it.

A single, unofficial torch bearer in far-flung Lewisham who has been decried from at least one pulpit will be the sum total of our involvement. Even the one school we have that is maintained at public expense didn't deign to mention the O word even once lest it fail instantly the Chareidi doping test (in which the more doped and duped the tested the higher the score). In fact the Olympic legacy (which we'll come to in a moment) they have bequeathed to their pupils is a ban on ice skating at the local rink. Mamesh lekoved the Olympics and how very thoughtful of them.

We may of course mention the Jubilee celebrations because in our minds we are still living under the protection and grace and favour of a benign monarch. Our sycophantic leaders like anything royal because it allows them and their schools to write letters to the Queen and then lie back and dream of the honours. Frolicking with bobbies, inviting them to our events and bestowing honours on them is also kosher because power round here is hard and soft power is for wimps and schlemiels. In the tiny brains of those who run our affairs power is at the end of a baton and in the clink of a handcuff and fraternising with the bill allows some of the steely shine to rub off. But to take part in any other celebration of this county is simply something to avoid like, well, the Olympics.

But there is one noble exception. No one can accuse the rest of the world of forgetting about us completely while the London Jewish Forum has a beat to its heart. In 2010 it secured £50,000 from the Mayor's Olympic Sports Legacy programme. It was to raise a similar amount itself making it a total of £100,000. The projects the money was to be spent on included 3 "integrated sports events" of which one was to be directed at the "strictly Orthodox community." A spokesman at the time said: "City Hall is interested in those who don't do much physical activity. There is a lack of facilities in religious communities." It just makes your heart melt at the chesed directed towards us.

So what happened to this 'integrated' event whatever it is to mean? Have you heard of it? Has it taken place? Will it take place? Or is this yet another case of some terribly nice people expressing their concern for us at the very highest level and then walking off with the accolades or, in this case, the cash? I make no accusations though I did ask the London Jewish Forum for details of the event but they have as yet not replied. After all I'm not a bobby or politician so why bother?

It's not as if we don't have a representative on the Forum. Click on their website and there on the masthead with his trademark goofy smile is our representative at the top table of society. It would be nice if he could make some enquiries on our behalf when this integrated event will be kicking off especially as integration and cohesion are his hallmarks. He should act fast though or 'his' schools might ban participation before the event even gets off the ground.

But let's not be mean on the very day this fest of goodwill amongst nations takes off. Surely some bright spark will come up with a legacy for the nearby park once the games are over. It could be ideal for a wedding hall. It's closer than the Decorium, larger than YHS, cheaper than the Mayfair Intercontinental, higher than the Prince and Princess, your badchen can drone on till 4 am without disturbing anyone's sleep and last but not least it's legal. It even has large grounds so there’s potential for extending. What more can you ask for? It’s just the kind of legacy chasunos are meant to create.


Anonymous said...

" far as official or even semi-semi-official participation in any part, forget it." What exactly did you have in mind? A big screen at the UOHC Beis Hakohol? Its a sports event,what kind of participation would even be possible? Do you also expect frum participation in the World Cup? How about the Ashes?

People wanna watch some of the Games, gezunderheit - whats it got to do with 'Official Chareidi Representation'??

Anonymous said...

We in Stamford Hill have a very close connection to the olympics. we celebrate our detachment from it once a year for 8 days. Efrayim Goldsteins participation is not to be decried as his involvement was not as an olympic champion rather as a mere torchbearer. To put it into perspective may be Efraim was showing our Chanuka connection to the olympics by holding the big shamash with pride?!

Jackpot said...

The torch has some a very questionable heritage! In terms of where it is lit, in Olympia Greece, associated with idol worship! And it was started by nazi Germany! There was no Olympic torch relay before nazi Germany hosted the olympics!

simcha said...

Sport is basically a substitute for war and has been since Biblical times: look up 2 Samuel 2, verses 12 to 17. It is better for people to be running round a track or cycling round a velodrome than killing one another. It is better still for us to do regular exercise just for fun and keep all the patriotic junk out of it. It's ironic that the purveyors of the most unhealthy food going are also the biggest Olympic sponsors.

Looking at sport in the round, imagine that there were no such thing as football. Now imagine that a politician comes to your door, asking for your vote. He tells you that he has invented a game called football and that he thinks it will be very popular.

You haven't heard of football, so you ask him what it is. He then confuses you with a long speech about the offside rule, and then leaves you still more bewildered when he tells you how much the top players will be paid for playing it. He then expands on how much working men and women who support the football teams will be expected to pay for replica kit and other team memorabilia, and how much companies will pay for advertising on broadcasts of football games. Given that the money for advertising won't come out of thin air, ultimately the customers of the companies will have to pay, which means higher prices for all.

How many of you, or indeed of the British public, would vote for such a politician?

Or put it another way, if - God forbid - you had a sick relative in hospital, and I asked you if it were more important that England won the world cup than your relative got better, I am sure you would say no. Unfortunately, that wouldn't be a true answer. Top ranking footballers are paid between 20 and 60 times as much as hospital consultants. If the money we spend is an accurate reflection of our values, as our Rabbis clearly say it is, then in reality it matters between 20 and 60 times more to us that we win the world cup, than it does that our sick relatives get better.

If you get angry at the above, please remember that whenever something upsets you, the first question you should ask is what are you doing to perpetuate it. I'm a Green Party member, and we in the Green Party have long advocated a national maximum wage to curb the excesses of the board room and of the soccer pitch.