As you may have noticed upon your travels my blog address and title were a little out of joint, unfortunatly I haven’t the money for an automatic redirect so this will have to suffice.


It looks exactly the same, just it doesn’t say cakejakesnake up top!

Questions over the decision to accept the sponsorship of the Olympic Stadium ‘wrap around’ from Dow Chemical were brought back into the spotlight yesterday as Meredith Alexander head of policy at ‘ActionAid’ resigned from her role as board member of the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 live on Newsnight.

Her resignation came in protest at the involvement of Dow chemical as an Olympic sponsor despite the companies links to the Bhopal Disaster of 1984. It should be said that Dow Chemical itself played no part in the disaster, however having purchased Union Carbide the company responsible for the Bhopal plant in 1984 Alexander felt that ;

“they got the good stuff, they got the assets they got the shares, they also got any debts and any liabilities”

Alexander feels  “liabilities” includes compensation for the many thousands of victims and family members of thise who have died in the years following the disaster. An out of court settlement of $470 million was reached in 1989 and Dow Chemical stands by the assertion that this settlement was full and final; many argue this fund has been inadequate however and that victims were not fully consulted over the agreement.

I cannot hope to have a full understanding of the disaster and am in no place to point fingers. However it seems clear that awarding the deal to Dow was a pretty poor decision by LOCOG; it was only ever going to generate negative publicity. Perhaps this could have been avoided had another sponsor been chosen, however the prospect of a Nike or Mcdonalds wrap seems pretty horrible too.

Lets not forget, Dow certainly did manufacture Agent Orange and Napalm, two of the most destructive and morally questionable chemical weapons to have been used in the wars of the recent past. Giving Dow a chance to rebrand itself in the form of an environmentally sustainable wrap (open to interpretation I’m sure) is not something I want to see associated with the Olympic Games, and I wonder how any Vietnamese or Indian fans and athletes are likely to feel about entering a stadium that to them may serve as a distasteful reminder of the past.

Yesterday was, as you may be forgiven for having missed, an auspicious day.

Why? Yet another Olympic milestone was passed as it was 200 days before the start of the Olympics, marked by what will no doubt be an extravagent and impressive Opening Ceremony.

The white elephant in the room?

The Olympics are starting to look a little out of place amid unrest in the middle east, Government cut backs closer to home and sluggish economic forecasts.

So, have the Olympics become an uncomfortable reminder of the boom before the bust? You tell me.

A happy new year to you all!

Right that’s the happy part out the way as lets face it; it’s cold and wet; the sun is stuck down low in the sky shining only the faintest of it’s rays down upon our embattled isle and nobody seems to have any money.

But of course this is the Olympic year, the year in which we must celebrate our island, our culture and our sporting prowess! (The last part isn’t all sarcasm, we’re actually pretty good at cycling, sailing and rowing) So we mustn’t be all doom and gloom.

To start of the year here is a video created by the Guardian that takes a look at some Olympic statistics. It’s more interesting than you think.

On the 22nd of November Benji Lanyado who works as a travel writer at The Guardian was kind enough to take us on a tour of the paper’s headquarters near Kings Cross in central London.

During the tour we spoke with three editors; Joanna Geary, Digital Developments Editor; Ian Prior, Sports Editor; and David Shariatmadari, Deputy Editor of Comment is Free . They gave us some very informative advice and I was inspired but if I’m honest I also left the building a little scared.

Becoming a journalist is going to be hard. Really hard.

I can hear the voices of an assembled crowd of beleaguered working men and women ringing out across the internet even now “what did you expect you fool? Of course it’s going to be hard. Life is hard.”  But blissful ignorance is a wonderful state to be in and as a 17 year old boy I have something of a monopoly on the market for it. So, despite the fact that it was a little immature, I was rather enjoying holding an aspiration to write based mainly on the end goals as opposed to the means, without taking my thoughts very far beyond “I’ll do a bit of blogging” and “I’ll do something with lots of writing in at University”. Clearly I was in serious need of some frank advice.

Read the rest of this entry »

As you may have noticed there has been a distinct lack of posting over the last few weeks. In one sense I’m happy because I have quite a good excuse for not getting anything done for once ,however I’m not sure that the nasty scars on my face as a result of a rather unfriendly encounter between my face and Upper Clapton Road are worth it. I should probably mention here that I fell off my bike on the way to a blogging session and wasn’t in any sort of fight as it seems most people who’ve seen me have thought. Anyway, a broken nose and six stitches later I am back and have plans to enter a worst injury of the month competition in my Dad’s cycling magazine. Here’s hoping for a ‘victory’ of sorts, I will of course keep you posted on the matter!

I am sure that I have your implicit trust when it comes to the factual accuracy of my writing but if you do find yourselves questioning the truth in my story here is a rather lovely picture taken by Charlie when he very kindly came to make sure I was alright:

At the core of the Olympics, alongside the values of friendship, respect, courage, excellence, determination, inspiration and equality, lies education. This fact is clear both in the Switzerland, at the Olympic Museum, and closer to home, through the efforts of LOCOG (London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games).

During our visit we were lucky enough to meet Andy Martin and Emily Tuffin who work for LOCOG on the ‘Get Set Network’, which aims to use “the London 2012 Games to inspire learners of all ages and abilities to get involved in Values-based projects and activities.” An impressive set of aims, made more impressive by the fact that London seems to be the first Olympics with a real commitment to engaging it’s youth in a more meaningful way than a few cute faces in the opening and closing ceremonies.

This desire for engagement is clearly shared by the IOC, our visit coincided with a week long set of activities for local school children that gave them a chance to be involved in some sports workshops. One of these was the archery course which we were lucky enough to try out (I was very good  obviously!) The great thing about all of this was the fact that the sport was not the end of the story in fact it was just the beginning, the real focus of the program was imbuing the participants with an understanding of the Olympic values I mentioned earlier. In this way the Olympics can gain a far more universal appeal, certainly they are about competition, they’d be nothing without it, but for those whom competition is not the biggest draw activities such as the ones we saw in Lausanne and the ones that the Get Set Network run and encourage are key and can only be seen as a good thing despite any reservations people may have about the effect or methods of engagement. The sheer number of children who attend schools who are a part of the network is a guarantee that a significant number of kids are going to be engaged by the Olympics coming to the UK, and not just through seeing it on the television.




Last Thursday, 20/10/2011, Fran, Charlie, Bianca, Claudia, Kaspian and I were lucky enough to visit the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, a beautiful town on the edge of Lake Geneva in Switzerland. This post was written towards the end of a wonderful day.


Today has been something of a whirlwind; up at 3:30 am, on the plane for 6:45 am and on a private tour of the museum by 10:30. The Olympic Museum has been open for eighteen years now, which almost seems like quite a short amount of time considering the hundreds of years of history that is encapsulated within the spiraling four walls of the building which also hosts the International Olympic Committee whenever they convene.

So, what can be taken away from today?
First and foremost today has confirmed to me that the Olympics can be a force for change and not only can they be, they should be for it is these principles and others like them upon which the modern Olympics are based. Equally it is clear that the Olympics past and present are full of contradictions. Avery Brundage, an American athlete and President of the IOC from 1952-1972 ,outlined his vision of the games;

“The Olympic Games must not be an end in itself, they must be a means of creating vast programme of physical education and sports competitions for all young people.”  Avery Brundage 

A vision which holds true to this day, we won the games in part because of the focus that was placed on the inclusion of young people. Yet Brundage was vehemently opposed to female competitors saying “I am fed up to the ears with women as track and field competitors… her charms sink to something less than zero.” 

Clearly two views which don’t tally up with each other in 2011 but the fact that the Olympic Museum , run by the IOC is perfectly happy to expose its own failings was a real breath of fresh air. In the same room as Usain Bolt’s 100m final jersey is an entire wall dedicated to the issue of doping and the games. To me this seems to be a clear message from the IOC to the countries it gives the games to; everybody makes mistakes, including the IOC and host countries, what’s important is that we face up to these mistakes whilst celebrating our triumphs. Sentiments that some would do well to take note of.

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As the dust begins to settle a week and half after the violent disorder seen across the UK which started in Tottenham following a peaceful protest over the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan by Met police officers before spreading first across London and then onto Bristol, Birmingham, Leicster ,Nottingham, Manchester and Liverpool. I feel it’s time for a reaction from someone who counts themselves amongst the young community of London.

The scenes of that week were undeniably horrific, embarrassing and hurtful to all of us, and that includes ‘us young people’ too. One posting on facebook “If any of you decide to get involved in the riots and brag about it on here, I will actually give the police your name and any other information I have on you.”

But all of this local sadness makes little difference to the fact that the international image of London and the UK as a whole as been undeniably damaged less than a year before we host an event which involves public order policing on an all together larger scale if different in nature: The London Olympics.

And this is not just an issue of PR, it is one of politics too and as the nations ears rang with flawed Tory rhetoric extolling the virtues of a harsh criminal justice system in which rioters, many of whom live in areas charecterised by social deprivation and suspicious attitudes towards both the police and the state, and their entire families were punished through the removal of benefits and social housing. Many failed to recognise the important points left unspoken  as a false moral high ground was set out with no room for debate. These riots took place against a backdrop of deep seated public anger; at Government spending cuts ; nearly a million 16-24 year olds unemployed; trebling of tuition fees and crucially the removal of Education Maintenance Allowance for many. None of these issues excuse the violence and it may not have been at the forefront of the minds of those nicking themselves a cheeky pair of trainers but they go along way to explaining why violence spread so quickly.

Yet despite this the cuts to youth services are certain to go ahead, I only wish that in time the public will see this Governments many erorrs of judgement for what they really are, before it’s too late.

As the Olympic ticketing process starts coming to an end, the final round of sales finishes on the 17th of this month, I feel it is time to vent a little frustration at reaction of the British public towards what has in reality been a fantastically successful campaign.

The whole issue has, in a rather British fashion, been described variously as a ‘debacle’, a ‘shambles’ and ‘crazy’ by both journalists and the baying hordes of the British public.

But has the whole thing been blown out of proportion? To my mind yes, it has, a rather simple bit of maths and an understanding of the ways in which people deal with ‘losing’ at anything tells us pretty that pretty quickly. In the first round alone 1.8 million people in the U.K applied for a total of 20 million tickets between them, no real surprise then that a few people are a bit miffed, there were only 6.6 million on sale in the first place.

So that’s the maths out the way, now an even simpler part, human nature. Humans hate losing, obviously, this combined with the nature of the British media and its desire to find the ordinary man on the streets’ view on pretty much every news topic regardless of expertise has led to an inflation of the story and also a very lazy bit of journalism. Whack a camera or microphone on and head out on to the street, select the first twenty people you see, plonk them infront of your selected recording device and next thing you know you’ve got yourself a story! “Yeah I got all the tickets I applied for” is frankly a pretty mundane sound byte. Angry people on the other hand makes for a news story which appeals to the public because frankly they didn’t get any tickets either and that’s what the assembled editors behind the desks at pretty much every news outlet have decided will make the cut.

Of course a large percentage of the tickets have gone towards corporate sponsors and of course that doesn’t sit particularly well with me either but, LOCOG aren’t the people who you should be getting angry at. In fact you shouldn’t be getting angry at anyone apart from whoever it was that created modern western capitalist society and I hear he or she is relatively difficult to pin down nowadays, since the financial crisis anyway.

Yes that’s right, until we have a communist Olympics, entirely funded by government with taxes drawn from some sort of big imaginary pot of money which none of us have payed into and therefore can’t get angry about the use of, until every games is held in international waters and has a capacity for the entire worlds population to attend free of charge, until there are no longer any nations competing, just a bunch on identical athletes and until it is ‘just the taking part that counts’  someone is going to be unhappy with some aspect of the Olympics. So you know what, stop complaining and embrace the beautiful diversity; the hodge podge of different cultures, ideas and sports; successes and failures, because that is what the Olympics is all about it is an event which represents the human race at its best and worst all at the same time. That sinking feeling you felt when you didn’t get any tickets and the anger you feel at all those corporate sponsers giving their employees tickets for free is in fact a gift from LOCOG to you because they’re just the feelings that those athletes you’re going to be watching on the other side of the television screen will be experiencing.The ticketing process was the first real event of the London Olympics and you didn’t just get a seat, you were a competitor.

About Me

As a part of a project with youth charity 'A New Direction' a group of young Londoners and I blog about the London Olympic and Paralympic games in 2012. Check out my twitter feed bellow and return here for updates on what ever Olympic or Paralympic issues have got me going each week!

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