Tag Archives: Sikh

The Olympic torch came to uncaring Greenwich this morning amid officials

A sign of things to come: ordinary roads blocked off by police

My eternally-un-named friend lives in Greenwich. She hates it. I understand why.

Last night, by the River Thames, there were food tents, comedy shows and a bandstand with music. A two minute walk away, we passed two men in their late 20s or early 30s standing on a street corner by Creek Road, near the Up The Creek comedy club. One was talking on his mobile phone:

Greenwich foreground; with a background in the Isle of Dogs

“The guy is testing the stuff and then he’s giving me the cash,” he said to the unseen person.

A little later, after dark, nearby, we passed by a children’s play area amid council blocks. Three boys in their late teens passed through quickly, one putting a white plastic bag at the top of the children’s slide, as if leaving it for someone to collect later.

Greenwich Council is notoriously uncaring unless you live in one of the elite streets. It is a bit like North Korea. It looks stylish on the outside but has been allowed to rot at its core by uncaring bureaucrats.

Sikhing good publicity by giving away free vegetable rolls

So I was interested to see the so-called Olympic Torch Relay pass through Greenwich early this morning. The small central one-way system in town was cordoned off with occasional single lines of partially-interested onlookers standing behind metal barriers.

The parade: policemen and officials

“It’s only three seconds of your life.” I heard one adult tell a child.

It was like a half-hearted small town parade where the people in official jackets outnumbered the onlookers and it was noticeable for occasionally smiling policemen. I was reminded of a line from the movie Get Carter:

“You were lucky. They also kill people.”

I guess the Metropolitan Police saw it as a welcome PR opportunity to try to distract from the more realistic image yesterday of the thuggish copper who killed an entirely random innocent man and got away with it despite a 12-year record of violence against ordinary people. It is rare that the left wing Daily Mirror and the right wing Daily Mail newspaper both run stories about endemic police brutality.

The Olympic shenanigans this morning were all about PR.

Forget athletics coaches: it’s all about Coca Cola coaches

There were the red Coca Cola frisbees, a gigantic red Coca Cola coach, small Marks & Spencer paper triangles with a union flag design on one side and, on the other, the slogan On Your Marks… for a Summer to remember.

People were taking photos with smart phones and iPads; the traffic was blocked by policemen on bikes.

A bemused Chinese interview beside the Cutty Sark

A man from some Chinese television company was interviewing a bemused woman beside the Cutty Sark, leaflets were being handed out for Greenwich’s Premier Gym & Health Club, a group of Sikhs were giving out free vegetable roti rolls promoting Langgar 2012 – “Sikhs serving langgar and embracing diversity”.

And, in among it all, barely glimpsed, was a small woman speeding along the road in a wheelchair holding aloft a golden Olympic torch and…

Glimpsed for a second – a man with an Olympic torch

…a minute later round the corner, there was a man in white running with the same Olympic torch. They seemed an unimportant afterthought.

Nearby, on the Thames, the looming grey warship with the attack helicopters on deck waited for any terrorist incident. Up the hill on Blackheath, the ground-to-air missile system was presumably being manned. And somewhere, atop various  South London blocks of flats, were other missile defence systems.

Shock! Amazement! Met Police killed non-one this morning

But, in Greenwich this morning, the Torch Relay seemed to be mostly an excuse for people to dress up in pink or green or red tops as wardens or volunteers or crowd-controllers and for the police to parade in yellow jackets on motor bikes.

People had come out in small numbers to see the spectacle of people organising things.

Attack helicopters and Yuppies by the Thames in Greenwich

For much the same reason, next Friday I will be watching the Olympics’ Opening Ceremony… To see how the highly-talented director Danny Boyle has spent his multi-million pound budget. And, like everyone else, just in case there is a spectacular terrorist attack live on television.

Last August I missed the English riots by being in Scotland. This year I will miss the English Olympics for the same reason.

I think the Edinburgh Fringe will have fewer sponsors and a few more laughs.

My eternally-un-named friend’s opinion?

“It’s just something else to put up with, like the weather. I don’t want to be here.”

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Filed under Drugs, London, Olympics, PR, Sponsorship, Sport

Despite the attacks on 9/11, the Yanks are still living on another planet

After yesterday, more diary extracts. Well, diary and e-mail. This time from 2001, just over a week after the Al-Qaeda 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington.

Monday 17th September 2001

I got an e-mail from someone I know, a Londoner with American parents:

Thankfully all my friends and family are accounted for but it took until late on Friday/ early hours of Saturday morning to get the OK from everyone I know and care about in New York and Washington. 

My Aunt is a medic and has been working flat-out to cope with the casualties and fatalities that arrive at the medical centres/ hospitals around New York. She will need post traumatic stress counselling, as will all the rescue workers and medical staff. 

I did hope that the events of last week would prompt my sisters who haven’t been speaking to one another for the past 15 months to make their peace – they haven’t. 

I replied:

It’s difficult to comprehend what effect this must have on Americans. They have never had foreigners attack them on their own soil nor been in many wars whereas, in Britain, we have been at constant war somewhere since at least 1939 and any of us could have had our legs blown off in the last 30 years by an IRA wastebin bomb while doing our shopping.

I think they’re still a bit on another planet. When a few hundred US body bags have come back from Afghanistan, they’re liable to turn insular again. It’s a sad reflection on my superficiality but the thought did flit through my mind “Well, this may help the Irish problem in the medium term because the Americans may be less prone to see the IRA as jolly little green freedom fighters.”

Tuesday 18th September 2001

A British Moslem friend of mine, who has worked in the US, spoke to her former boss in Washington this afternoon. She said he sounded angry and told her there was real anger in the US following the attacks on New York and Washington last week. Another friend of hers – a Moslem Brit in the US – said it was dangerous for her to return to the US because Moslems were being attacked. Such is American ignorance that a Sikh was killed in a racial attack.

I watched the David Letterman TV show, transmitted from New York. He gave a ten-minute opening monologue about the World Trade Center bombing, then interviewed US TV newsman Dan Rather who was there as The Man Who Knows The Real Situation.

The perspective given was that the Baddies are mad, insane and neither cause-and-effect nor logic enter into it. There is no point trying to understand their motive because there is none. They are just Pure Evil with no cause except that the Baddies see the Americans have more money and a better life than they do, so the only trigger is Envy.

Letterman asked Rather – apparently seriously – why something could not have been done in retribution last Saturday (the New York attack was on Tuesday).

When the Independent newspaper wrote a column saying to the Americans “Welcome to the real world” they got it wrong.

The Yanks are still living on another planet.

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Filed under History, Terrorism