"The heroes of declining nations are always the same—the athlete, the singer or the actor" - Glubb Pasha.
When I saw the Olympic Park Orbit on the telly I thought it was an ugly and depressing piece of work which indeed encapsulated modern Britain - foreign-owned, non-functional, but lauded by our artistic elite as the best thing since sliced cow.
But it's not until you walk into the Olympic Park and see it close to, towering above the stadium, that you can appreciate just how very ugly and non-functional it actually is. It's hideous.
A pity, as with a bit of tweaking it could have made by far the greatest helter-skelter in the world, a ride on which would be well worth fifteen quid.
At night it's illuminated in rising and falling intensities of red, which gives the impression of a giant tungsten lamp filament being heated by an electrical current. Again, had they actually chosen to do that, passing thousands of amps through different parts of the structure until sections glowed red-hot, now here, now there, it would still have been useless, but you'd have had to admire the technology that kept it upright (a large steel structure heated to red heat would usually IMHO collapse as the metal loses strength), and be in awe at the power required.
My jaundiced views on the Olympics have not changed - an outrageous waste of money (£27 million for the opening ceremony alone* was in real terms nearly twice the entire cost of the 1948 Olympics)and a Labour vanity project. But at least they wasted the money in style.The atmosphere was great and the thousands of soldiers and police all over the place meant that you didn't have to worry taking the kids home on the tube at 11.30 pm.
Now it's "tea-break over, back on your heads" - to a world of static wages and sticky inflation.
Today’s Tories/Lib Dems are basically following Blair/Brown/Darling’s Labour strategy:
slightly reduced state spending (Tories slightly more than Labour, but we’re talking maybe one or two percent here)
money printing (aka "monetisation"), which via inflation lowers living standards at a time of static wages
lowest-ever interest rates to reduce the real value of savings
mass immigration to keep wages flat - Labour wanted immigration to rub the Right's noses in diversity, Tories like the way it keeps wages down, the rich individuals who fund both parties like the way it keeps wages down
banks to be bailed out by indebting the taxpayer for generations to come.
reduced state spending AND reduced terms and conditions via outsourcing/privatisation deals involving their friends and party donors
But the poor proles need to be constantly reminded that one party is good and one evil, although the actual policies are near-identical. It would never do for people to realise that there’s not a fag-paper’s breadth between them, which is why you'll still read about "Tory scum" and "the most right-wing government in our history" in the Guardian.
What we’re seeing is reproletarianisation.
Before WW2, most working people could look forward to a lifetime spent in rented accommodation and a small pension until death within a few years of retirement (I think in 1945 male average death age was 68, so 3 years of retirement).
After WW2, many of the post-war boomers will have bought their own homes, and the middle-classes will have retired at 60 on two thirds of final salary, index-linked.
But pretty soon their children will leave uni with maybe £60,000 plus of debts (9K fees, 11K board and subsistence for 3 years), live in rented accommodation all their lives and if employed retire at 70-plus on a small pension.
They’ll have returned to the life pattern of their grandparents and great-grandparents. It was a nice circus while it lasted - pity about the bread.
* a ceremony whose presentation, if not whose message, would have won the approval of the late Leni Riefenstahl.