Tuesday, 31 July 2012

How the NHS showed up my Olympic fickleness

It seems I have to confess to a certain fickleness. Or perhaps even double standards. Not hypocrisy, though, nothing that strong.

For weeks I’ve had barely a good word to say for the Olympics. I loathed the hype. I loathed the celebration of corporate values. I loathed the way the rest of us trying to use London were being pushed around.

So my position was clear. Perhaps I’d watch a bit of the occasional event, if it seemed interesting, but otherwise I was going to maintain my position of superior detachment.

And then came the opening ceremony. Obviously I wasn’t going to watch that. It would be far beneath me. 

‘Shall we watch the opening ceremony?’ said Danielle.

‘Why, yes, of course,’ I heard myself answering. With no connection between cynical brain and emotional mouth.

And from then on the emotion just grew. That section in the middle? The NHS bit? I had a lump in my throat. Nurses and patients taking part. Some of them had spent 150 hours in rehearsals. And it was a tribute to the NHS itself and the icon for it all was Great Ormond Street Hospital, Britain’s premier hospital for children. 

The NHS at the Olympics
How could I possibly avoid the emotion? Because we love our NHS over here. We love the idea that whoever we are, whatever our status, however much money we have or how little, if we get sick the NHS is there. Sure, other systems can deliver healthcare that’s even more effective, even more technological, even more expensive. But we know, with all its defects, we can count on the NHS to look after us.

No wonder Conservative MP Aidan Burley denounced it on Twitter as ‘leftie multicultural crap’, only to be denounced himself, by his own party leader David Cameron, as ‘idiotic’. Which is amusing considering that few of us would view the top of the party as much more intellectually gifted than the bottom.

Burley’s denunciation is completely characteristic, though as always amazing. The Right likes to think of itself as the repository of Christian values, but what could possibly better express the values of the Good Samaritan than an organisation that helps people when they need it without any question as to their means?

By then, of course, I was completely hooked. I watched rest long after Danielle had gone to bed. Since then I’ve seen a lot more of the games themselves than I intended.

My only excuse is that this is typically English behaviour. We like to strike an air of disdain, but the reality is that we’re as sentimental as the best of them – or perhaps the worst of them – and the detachment is really only a defence.

But it does look like terrible inconsistency. Not hypocrisy. But perhaps a little fickleness.

‘Well, I insist on a blog post. Come clean. Admit it to the world,’ said Danielle the next day.

So this is it. My confession. Have I atoned sufficiently?


Anonymous said...

thgroupThe opening ceremony was indeed excellent viewing; it was heartening that it had NHS and Suffragette components.
I can't say as much for the actual games.
The "stories" are probably worth something; so far the controversy about the Chinese swimmer is probably the best. It's interesting how the "establishment" have exonerated the athlete, but it won't be surprising if, as the American said, it will be revealed in a few years that he was right after all. Another brilliant item was the mix-up with the Korean flags. But Jeremy C/Hunt's dropping the clanger is pure fiction! They made it up.

David Beeson said...

The other great moment was the disqualification of the Korean and Chinese badminton players. It gave me hope: after all, if the aim was to lose, I could qualify. I wouldn't even have to try.