Looking fifty is great – if you’re sixty (Joan Rivers)

And so, dear listener, in a rather special edition of the show, I’ve been asked to justify what a couple of people see as ‘a poor attitude towards the Commonwealth Games’. Nobody in authority, although David Grevenberg (sp) never did reply to my suggestion that we should just have a mammoth sing-in as an opening ceremony.

But I do want to correct a misimpression. I am not against the Commonwealth Games but I do have reservations.

It’s not the fact that, despite the impression given by TV trails, the World’s top athletes are NOT coming to Glasgow. They are, however, in Glasgow as I write this and that number includes some Jamaican athletes (those not still banned) and a lot of the Kenyans who are running at Hampden but not in a fortnight’s time. They are running in what one newspaper described as the lucrative Diamond League.

It’s not the fact that homosexuality is banned in 41 out of the 53 Commonwealth countries. We jumped up and down at Putin’s Russia and its well-publicised stance on homosexuality but we ignore the fact it’s punished by twenty years’ imprisonment plus flogging in Malaysia.

Indeed if you do want to protest then Police Scotland will direct you to one of the special ‘Protest Zones’ where you can be kettled and corralled – a British tradition which started in 2012 for the London Olympics.

It’s not the fact that people like the Jaconellis had their home destroyed after being compulsorily purchased with the intent of building a community facility. Except it’s going to be a big marquee tent for corporate hostility.

It’s not the fact that the people of the East End are fed up with receiving yet another regeneration which will apparently leave a legacy (Remember GEAR of the Seventies?) but to get that legacy they’ve got to put up with their streets being closed to them and shuttle buses being provided to get them out.

I was at a public meeting about four years ago in Petershill Juniors Social Club where many concerns about matters like these were raised and the organisers said reassuring words and then explained that part of the legacy would be a leaner fitter Glaswegian………..

And as for the marketing department getting into a frenzy any time they think someone is making use of the words ‘Commonwealth Games 2014’ in any form of commercial enterprise (I hope the Queen’s speech, if it is in that baton which is currently touring Scotland, gives them laldy) and my opposition to the Stalinist intent of destroying high rise blocks to send a message of contempt to the rest of the Commonwealth……..

No. I hope it goes really well. But it is only now that the real heroes of the Games are arriving; the volunteers, the fans and the athletes – especially the lesser known names e.g. all the athletes from St Lucia and elsewhere.

Y’see I was very lucky in my broadcasting career. I helped cover the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games of 1986 for BBC Radio Scotland and I was sole coverage of the European Special Olympics in Glasgow in 1990 and celebrated the event with a radio documentary dedicated to the amazing people who made every competitor a winner.

Yes. They were different times. Security was more relaxed and I didn’t even need passes for my car for car parks.

In Edinburgh we mixed with the athletes in their homes in Pollok Halls of Residence and we went to their nightly ‘discos’. And that included the final night ‘disco’ at Ingliston where a current high heid yin at STV and I ended up on a bus with a bunch of Aussie athletes with no idea where we were heading. I last met her at a Tough Mudder Run in Dumfries – she and I were spectating.

The Special Olympics were very moving and I came away with amazing memories of very special people; table tennis players with Down’s Syndrome, a badly physically handicapped boy from Bishopbriggs who took part in the Riding for the Disabled just up the road from me and all the coaches who had given up weekends and evenings (for nothing) to make it happen.

And that’s what’s been lacking….fun and belief in the individual and sincerity…..and it only hit me when the Opening Ceremony uniforms were launched……they got Scotland talking about the event in a really fun way. ‘Made in Scotland from curtains’ was maybe my favourite comment. I like them.

So finally, I do wish everyone who takes part (in whatever form) luck and a certain amount of love. Be you a bored volunteer in Queen Street Station waiting for people to approach you; an athlete in the bowls (what is lawn bowls low 5, Anne?) who’s about to get coverage you’ve never ever had before because yours is the only event at 11 in the morning; or you’re a spectator from St Lucia who’s there to see your cousin’s wee boy in the boxing. Have fun and stuff the marketing men, the badly paid and badly trained security men who can’t speak English and the bored but well paid runners of Jamaica who won’t even speak for themselves but pass it on to their coaches and managers to answer for them…..Mo Farah does the same……

Does that explain everything? That’s enough for tonight, but what do you think?

Cya, keep(ing) it fun (please) and still wearing that badge? Still waiting on the photos to prove it.

Johnt850, like a squirrel with a good PR company. Yas! (as Carmen would say)

Actually one more point…..some people think I’m against Alcoholics Anonymous because there are certain parts of their thinking and ways of doing things with which I disagree (surely I’m allowed reservations?) but I can never ever fault an organisation which, at the very least, allows people with alcohol problems and a possible way out of them to share that way with each other. I’ll leave the personal out of it tonight.

My own favourite memory of 1986? Being a sports presenter one night at eleven o’clock and announcing that this had happened earlier that day.


2 Responses to “Looking fifty is great – if you’re sixty (Joan Rivers)”

  1. johnt850 Says:

    Let me know what you think……

  2. johnt850 Says:

    The reference to Jamaican athletes should have read ‘those not still banned’………

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