Shadow of the wedding
The spectacle of William and Kate's wedding has been a welcome bonus for some and a right royal pain in the backside for others. But in the meantime, writes Basement Jack, there have been events of far greater interest and irritation that have gone unremarked...until this point.
The wedding: Would that I could summon sufficient bile to lambaste those Brits so utterly absorbed by William and Kate's nuptials. But I can't, I remain as I have been - entirely indifferent to the whole affair. People putting up bunting and buying commemorative tea towels seems a reasonable price to pay for another Bank Holiday. Okay I could've lived without the syrupy proctology served up ad nauseum by royal correspondents in the weeks preceding...but that's what TV remotes were invented for. Ultimately who gives a monkey's? They seem like nice enough folk.
The same cannot be said for the individuals who conceived of the ticket allocation system for the London 2012 Olympics. Having mocked the woeful inadequacies of the New Delhi Commonwealth Games in the pages of this very magazine, it now looks like our own organising committee is going to bollocks it up too. In what other transaction ever made by anyone anywhere in the world could a customer contemplate the following proposition:
- you can only use Visa to pay for them;
- you don't know what you'll get or in what quantity;
- the first confirmation of what you've bought is the seller taking money from you?
In essence you can apply for you and your family to attend as many events as you like, with prices ranging from £20 to £2,000, but you won't know what you got until your Visa bill arrives! So on the one hand you are encouraged to explore the rich sporting diversity on offer with the proviso not to expect to get everything for which you applied. On the other hand you'd better have a kind, understanding bank (and we're just swamped with those) that won't mind a potentially huge unspecified amount of money put on your Visa card (assuming you have one). I had been planning on having a punt on some of the more obscure sports as a fallback in case I wasn't allocated the events I really wanted. But bugger that for a game of soldiers - what if I got them all? I'd end up paying hundreds of pounds for events I could not attend. And so the duets free routine of the synchronised swimming will just have to do without me (I just wanted to find out first hand whether the contestants were real and not perma-grinning cyborgs). Likewise the women's beach volleyball, which I only really wanted to attend for the articles.
The permanently smug Lord Coe doesn't seem to think there's going to be a problem - maybe he should tell his Tory mates that as the Games drive Britons to new heights of personal debt. Worse still would be the spectre of empty stadiums and unsupported events. I hope I'm wrong, I hope all the events are packed out but doubts are lingering. Either way London 2012 with its Tiswas logo has really managed to get people's backs up already and the veneer of professionalism appears to be cracking...is anyone really surprised?
I was surprised, however, with the batch of mail order catalogues I hadn't ordered that crashed through my letter box last week. These booklets must share some DNA with bacteria or rabbits because they are multiplying at an exponential rate. Sign up for one thing, order one item and it's like painting a target on your cyber-arse. These companies can smell an online punter like sharks smell a drop of blood in the ocean. No matter how many check boxes you tick denying companies the right to pass your details on to 'other relevant companies of interest' you end up getting catalogues from brands you've never heard of - and it's worse now than it has ever been.
For the most part few of them demand more than a cursory glance before being lobbed in the recycling but one really caught the eye last week: the Bear Grylls mail-order catalogue. That's right, the ex-SAS, celebrity outdoorsman and all around double-hard bastard is now promoting a range of his own unique clothing. Fashion and the wild frontier are not the most obvious of bedfellows but apparently this is just another barrier that Grylls has overcome. Frankly given his reputation for rugged Rambo-esque endeavour I'm surprised the catalogue didn't arrive etched onto the blade of a hunting knife bearing the slogan "Buy this sh*t if you dare".
Now Grylls may be happy living off moss and bracken, traversing waterfalls and hanging off precipices in the middle of nowhere but he looks pretty uncomfortable posing on a log for a camera. The 'action' photos are fine but the posed product-promoting images are butt-clenchingly false. There's also a hole in the logic behind the sales model. Yes, he's a celebrity explorer and hard man but aren't the sorts of folk who might aspire to a similarly wild and challenging lifestyle quite unlikely to want to buy branded goods that might see them labelled as fan-boys (and girls)?
But then again given Bear's propensity for thinking ahead and being prepared I'm sure he's got this covered. He's probably got a far better feeling for the brand awareness of the frontiersman/survivalist community than most. And I suppose if one did find oneself in some far flung corner of the world clinging to grassy tufts with one's fingernails while waist-deep in quick-sand or bison excrement, the trousers you'd want to be wearing might just be 'Bear Survivor Trousers'. Still think knife delivery is the way to go next time though.
Also, on reflection, was failing to call the catalogue 'The Bear Necessities' an opportunity missed? I think so.
If you'd like to comment on any of Jack's article or share rant about something that irritates you, email email@example.com. It might tempt him out of the cupboard, and maybe he'll write about what annoys you!