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Sunday 21st December 2014
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The Commonwealth Games - The Joy Of Whingeing

Posted by Nick Abbot on August 04, 2014 at 13:35PM

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The summer of televised sport drew to a close last night and the green ink complainers will now have to select some other topic to act as the focus of their ire. The displacement the sport has caused to the TV schedules had become the principle source of furious letters from those that regulate their lives by repeats of Cash in the Attic.


They are differentiated from those doing the running and jumping by their bellies sticking out more than their bums do. Both groups were red in the face.


For those of us who were interested in the action, the athletes were playing games, the audience was playing follow-the-coverage.


The whiners must be the reason why any event shown by the BBC this summer was impossible to follow unless you were unemployed and had nothing at all to do for the day. Trying to record a competition shown by the Beeb was like chasing house flies. They would say: “This event will now continue on BBC2, while on BBC1 we will show you another chance to see some carefully preserved character effortfully value some old tat that a Doris, or a Sidney has just blown the dust off."


The letters of fury the timorous television bods must get when any change is made to the soothing soup of daytime television schedules must be the reason they switched coverage, mid-hurdle from one channel to the next and back again.


That, and a misplaced sense that The News must not be moved for anything, so the event you were trying to record was shifted to another channel to make way for the bulletin that summarised the event you were trying to record. And all so they would get fewer complaints. Well, I'd like to complain...


The one event that was not shifted about like a wrestler's jock strap was the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games, featuring a collection of countries that Britain holds so little sway over that it seemed like a meeting of human rights refuseniks.


Lulu started the evening off with something of a bang. Quite surprisingly youthful, pert and forceful for someone who must be...(just working it out)...from the Pleistocene Era. She belted out “Shout” and seemed in full possession of all of her vocal chords and star wattage.


All about, on the field there was something with tents, like an introductory lesson on camping in inclement weather. Those athletes that did not have engagements with their sponsors, huddled together round the stage for warmth in the Glaswegian summer evening.


There followed drawn out speeches that might have sounded fine in front of the bedroom mirror of the grandees' complimentary hotel rooms, but were so long that they bordered on rude for the hopping crowd of twitching athletic muscle that were raring to go on the pitch.


From a lectern that looked like a TV station logo from the 1980's, one man in particular, His Royal Highness Prince Tunku Imran of Malaysia, a country that could show North Korea a thing or two about human rights abuses, droned on for what seemed an age. It was torture. He sucked up the approval of the crowd whenever he said how great Glasgow was, which was often, as though the applause was for himself, rather than the people doing the applauding.


He was clearly not used to being interrupted and commandeered the stage for so long that those around were visibly ageing, apart from Lulu, who continued to get younger.


The Australians took the baton and presented us with a perfectly nice singing lady over which the BBC captioned the message that we did not have much time to wait for Kylie Minogue. That has to be one of the rudest, most unthinking things that you could do to a performer.


She sang in front of a team who moved TV screens back and forth to make shapes that perfectly framed the changing images shown on them. This was maximal use of minimal budget. It was such a simple, brilliant effect that it was surprising that no-one had done it before. Perhaps they had and I hadn't seen it. It will certainly be repeated by others until it delights no more.


More speechifying followed and then The Scrunching Of The Flag. The Commonwealth standard was borne aloft through the athletes collected on the field who, in their enthusiasm, managed to screw it up like a used tissue. It was then “folded” and passed to a matronly lady, like a student on his first visit home from college would dump his laundry in his mother's hands.


There was a film of forthcoming attractions at the next Games, which will be held in the sun kissed, surfer paradise that is the Gold Coast of Australia. This had the effect of making Glasgow appear even bleaker and greyer than it actually is, which is very.


After much trailing and promises that we would not have to wait much longer, Kylie took to the stage. A cold, detached, nasally Madonna impersonator with worse songs and less personality. The backing dancers looked like they had stepped off the set of an S&M remake of the film Tron. The best you could say of her performance was that she was singing live. No backing tape could have sounded that bad.


In a flourish of inexpensive fireworks, it was over. No more World Cup, no more Wimbledon and no more Commonwealth games. What are the complainers going to whine about now?



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