The Olympics was going to be the event that saved Britain from the recession. Like the royal wedding and the jubilee before it, the hype was that it would provide huge economic growth.
Just last month David Cameron claimed there would be a £13 billion “boost for Britain”. Yet again this has turned out to be a mirage.
Instead the Olympics seem to have caused a localised “mini-recession” in London. London Pleasure Gardens has gone into administration—after grabbing £3.3 million from Newham council.
Mayor Boris Johnson’s relentless announcements on buses and trains telling people to stay away from busy spots have, understandably, scared many away. They have since been pulled.
Traffic on the roads is down 20 percent. Popular shopping areas like Oxford Street and Covent Garden are all but empty. The number of people visiting London, instead of rising, has fallen by a third. Visitor attractions say numbers have fallen by up to 40 percent.
But culture secretary Jeremy Hunt says it’s all a pack of lies. “This is absolute nonsense and we have just got to knock this on the head,” he said. He claimed London is “quids in”—pointing out that he himself had spent £2,400 on tickets for the Olympics closing ceremony.
We’ll see if the Tories have changed their tune when it comes to the next time they have to explain why the economy has shrunk again.
Splash the cash
While it doesn’t look like any of us will have much to show for hosting the Olypics, the cost has spiralled to an estimated £24 billion.
If you had £24 billion in pound coins, it wouldn’t all fit in an Olympic-sized swimming pool. In fact it wouldn’t fit in 100 of them. You’d need 680 Olympic-sized swimming pools to hold all that dosh.
Lot of bottle
Despite the stress involved in organising the Games, it seems that Olympic officials are still finding time to unwind.
One photograph of a receipt posted online shows a restaurant bill for £44,660. This includes £19,000 on one bottle of Hennessy 1853 cognac. The receipt allegedly shows the lunch bill of just 15 Olympic officials.
One in five seats at the Olympics were still empty at the end of last week. Organisers Locog said the situation was “quite successful”.
Fat cats bagged the seats but can’t be bothered to show up. So volunteers have been told they can wear casual clothes—to masquerade as ordinary punters.
‘David Cameron. Who needs him?’
The Olympics have failed to distract people from their hatred of the Tories. Every evening beach volleyball takes place just outside David Cameron’s house at the back of Downing Street.
There is reportedly a “raucous” atmosphere at the venue. The MC has taken to telling the crowd, “We’ve just had a call. It seems the prime minister is trying to get an early night and wants less noise. What do we say to that?”
Derision and boos then emanate from the crowd. Later the MC says, “I’ve just had word that David Cameron has moved to a hotel to get some sleep. Are we sorry?” The answer comes back: “David Cameron. Who needs him?”
A group of cops monitoring the Games were in a “panic” last week. It wasn’t more lost stadium keys this time.
It was the fact that sewage was leaking into their control room through the ceiling. The cops were, alas, evacuated.
Dow mocks Bhopal leak with a mascot
Just when you’ve learned the names of freaky Olympic mascots, Manlock and Wardeville, another one pops up. This time it’s Dow Chemical who we have to thank for bringing a terrifying character into the world.
“Hopeiary” is a lifesize walking hedge. Its message is apparently to protect the planet from environmental destruction. Which is ironic as Dow Chemical owns Union Carbide—the firm responsible for a massive chemical leak that killed thousands in Bhopal, India, in 1984.
In other sponsor news, all Olympic venues are being patrolled by “wi-fi police”. Staff are walking through the crowd waving huge red “hotspot detector” antennas.
They are looking for anyone using their phone to run a wireless network. Instead everyone is supposed to pay sponsor BT £5.99—for 90 minutes online.
Labour: We’re not for those kind of parties
There’s going to be a hell of a party when Margaret Thatcher dies. But the Labour Party has come out to condemn the idea after pressure from the Tories.
Facebook groups calling for street parties on the happy day have been growing for years. Tory MP Louise Mensch said she had found Labour members backing them.
A Labour spokesperson solemnly intoned, “No one should be wanting to celebrate the death of anyone.” But as one Thatcher hater John Bradley said, “When she dies there will be so many parties you won’t need an invite.”
MP thinks tag rules don’t apply to him
Eric Joyce, the MP put on a tag after getting into a brawl in parliament, has admitted cutting it off. He said he took scissors to the tracking device because he wanted to compete in a parliamentary boat race.
Joyce was supposed to be rowing in the House of Commons team against the House of Lords. He felt that having the tag on show would be “embarassing”.
It’s not the first time he’s felt the rules are for other people. When he was arrested for fighting, he told cops, “You can’t touch me, I’m an MP.”