David Hughes-Lewis, spokesman for the ‘Cardiff Retail Partnership’, has obligingly saved me the bother of rattling off an Olympics blog. I’d had a few emails urging me to unleash my wonky pea-shooter at the colossal, ludicrous, obscene, trashy circus, so I made a start with the aim of having it ready in time for Danny Boyle’s hilariously inaccurate ‘England’s Green & Pleasant Land’ opening ceremony – but after a few paragraphs my heart wasn’t in it. I was struggling to add anything to Will Self’s definitive “the Olympics suck dogshit through a straw”, and it felt like I was kicking at a wide open door. Then along comes Mr Hughes-Lewis (is it just me, but aren’t those striving hyphenated double surnames of the lower-middle-class Anglo-Welsh annoying?) to nail it in a few sentences.
“Beggars could leave Olympics visitors with the wrong impression,” he said, “we get them outside our shops asking people for money and calling in…I’m Cardiff born and bred and I don’t want people to go away with that as their impression of the city.” He hadn’t finished: “Homeless people come to our city because the pickings are rich…they know it’s a soft touch, they know they’re not going to be dealt with.”
What a classic! The way fellow human beings are dehumanised as “them”, “that” and “they”. The open admission that the Olympics have no bearing on reality and depend on false impressions. The frank contradicting of all that Olympian “inclusivity” bullshit to tell it like it is: just as in the Beijing Games four years ago, there are undesirables who don’t fit the Olympic brand. The casual confirmation of how Cardiff’s wholesale surrender to ‘shopping’ has effectively turned the city centre into a privatised, guarded enclave exclusively for those with disposable income. The elevation of the making of money above other considerations. The defining of the Olympic purpose as entirely commercial. The use of his place of birth, my place of birth, as justification for silliness. They straight-faced assertion that homelessness in Cardiff doesn’t exist but is somehow introduced externally. And the way he ends with that chilling “dealt with”, an ominous echo of the man who invented the hysterical, phoney, chauvinistic Olympics as we know them today: Adolf Hitler (1889-1945).
Who is he? He owns Jonathan David Jewellers on St Mary Street (+ a branch on Wellfield Road, Roath). Thus he sells entirely inessential bling to Penylan Grass Widows, Dinas Powys Mistresses and Thornhill Fallen Women; a trade that depends on people with the IQ of a jackdaw reacting “Ooh! It’s shiny! I want it!” like New Guinea tribespeople when first shown a bit of tin-foil (let’s not even get into the appalling history, practices and ethics of the precious stone industry). I wonder what his attitude to “beggars” would be if, say, his shop was boycotted until he retracted his comments? Just thinking aloud…
So, cheers Dai butty. You’ve done my work for me, illustrating the venality of the Olympics better than I ever could, and freeing up time for me to strip off and sunbathe in the back garden. Fuck the Olympics.