Well last night I found myself taking a lift up to the top floor of the Olympic Stadium as I tried to gatecrash …I mean arrive at a VIP after party in one of the guest suites.
My invite had obviously got lost in the post.
In the lift with me was a stylish elderly man who looked kind of familiar. He was looking at me with surprise, like he kind of recognized me too.
Before he could say, ‘You’re La, aren’t you?’ I interjected and said, ‘Yes I am! No don’t worry I am getting it a lot these days!’
I then continued, ‘You’re Mr Jack Rugga aren’t you – The President of the International Olympic Committee?’
Again just before he could answer, the lift stopped at a floor on the way up.
It was Mo, Usain and Caster waiting to go up with Jack and I to the party.
But when they saw that I was in deep conversation with the President, they apologized and Usain said, ‘No worries Mr Rogge, we’ll take the next one!’
This despite Jack saying in a dishy French (I think) accent, 'Please… please join us!’
The lift doors closed before he could say more. And then it happened.
A voice came through the lift’s intercom and said, ‘Hold on a moment. Please do not panic. Due to the large numbers of lifts in use, this one is momentarily delayed and will resume its upward journey in a moment.’
As Jack looked worried, I decided to keep him calm and started to chat about how the games had gone, and my attempts to get into a team.’
Jack was obviously in a hurry as he started pushing the intercom button repeatedly and shouting, ‘Please hurry up and get 'zee' lift going!’
I think Jack must be claustrophobic as he was really starting to panic.
To calm him down, I continued to talk which did not seem to help much, but I thought to push on to try and distract him a bit.
‘You know Jack,’ I continued, ‘It really is wonderful work that you and the IOC do hey? Bringing all the nations of the world together; showing us all how sports transcends any artificial divisions that some bullies seek to impose upon us.
It really does make us realize how we can all share a common glorious humanity. Especially if we stick to the game’s rules and play fair.
It all boils down to sportsmanship, courtesy and manners really at the end of the day hey?’ I concluded.
Jack by this stage was pushing all the lift buttons and speaking into his mobile ‘Get me out of here!’
‘Chill Jack!’ I placated. And then continued, ‘But you know Jack, surely if sportsmanship must be adhered to on the playing fields, then it should also apply to the sponsors and the business ethics behind the games!
I mean it’s great that the sponsors and big business put so much time and effort and resources into the games, but I think sometimes, along the way, they lose sight of the dream behind the games…sometimes.’
I then went off a bit as I have before about how could ‘McUknowho’ had been allowed to write such a mean spirited ‘we are the only one’s in the village who can sell chips by themselves' clause into their contract.
I have asked before, are these companies crazy that they can negotiate such small, small-minded clauses into contracts, for such minimal potential in increasing ‘chip sales’ turnover at the expense of the ‘goodwill factor!’
I then offered that the IOC gets a bit freaky about the rings! Stop being so possessive. If a local florist want to make a shop window display of rings of flowers to get into the spirit of things, give them a break for goodness sake.
Its not like you invented the games or the rings for that matter! Show some real goodwill!
I mean isn’t ‘goodwill’ what these games are all about anyway hey?
Where’s the goodwill in placing giant screens in cordoned off areas of public parks to offer families and friends a chance to come together under the beautiful twilight London skies to share in the excitement. Okay great that its free entry but...
But then these same Moms and Dads and kids are forced to either eat all the contents of their picnic baskets at the entrance gates or throw it away. And once inside, are then be forced if the kids are hungry or thirsty to pay £9 for a hotdog from one of the official vendors inside!
Where is the sportsmanship in that?
Okay admittedly perhaps this was not the time or place, and Jack was looking freaked out, but I just had to get in about how absurd it was to have empty seats in the arenas as the tickets were over-reserved or priced right out of reach of most of us.
And how could they have a ticket booking system where you had to bid for a ticket without knowing what sport you would end up seeing.
I mean imagine booking to see Shrek – The Musical with your kids on the West End, but when you collect your tickets they say, ‘No you are off to Madame Violets Exotic Dancing Showclub!’
Or if I booked an airline ticket to go home to visit South Africa, how crazy would it be if they had a similar ‘bid system’ that saw me flying off to Nicaragua instead. I mean I would like to go there one day, but when I choose to, not when some odd computer booking system says I am going to!
How crazy is that system?
I then went in to quite a detailed description of an idea that I had had for a mascot for the games that I would have given the IOC for free.
Its a cute little rabbit in sports gear called Olly (as in Olly'mpics) with the tag line 'With Olly you can be just a hop, skip and a jump away from getting a gold medal!'
Okay I understand that Olly could have got confused with the Easter Bunny, but still its crazy that nearly £ 500 000 (over R6 million) was spent on designing those little one-eyed mascot monsters.
'What do you think Jack?' I said still trying to calm him down.
I managed to stop myself going off about the hundreds of millions wasted in giving the security contract to a private company that could not deliver, but still thinks it should keep the £50 million pound profit. This profit gleaned from an absolute slack mismanagement of the contract.
But I thought okay, I should also give the guy a break!
I finished with, ‘Perhaps Jack, you and the rest of the committee should be looking into working on those issues too before we hit the Copacabana in Rio 2016.’
Just as I started to sing, ‘Her name was Lola…’ the lift jerked back into motion.
Jack was obviously thinking of all that I had offered, as he remained silent until the doors opened on the top floor.
He then turned to me and said, ‘Its La isn’t it?’
I nodded and smiled self-deprecatingly.
‘Well La, my name is ‘Jacques Rogga’ NOT ‘Jack Rugga!’
Before I could apologize he looked at me and said, ‘You know La, you are so full of hot air, you should perhaps blow out the Olympic Flame tomorrow night!’
‘Really? Oh thanks Jack ….I mean Jacques!’ I shouted as the security guys lifted me… I mean showed me the route of how to get out of the stadium.
I suppose they realized that I could not have a late night, especially if I am to have such a key role in the closing ceremony!’
Congrats to all involved in the superb Games, the wonderful athletes, the volunteers and so wonderful to see the brilliant young South Africans stepping out! Its really has been brilliant!
Last one out, gets the lights ....
Footnote: Special thanks to Mark Legward for his super artwork and banners that he has been so kind to share with me on La’s Olympic Dreams blog campaign. It has been so great to collaborate so spontaneously across cyberspace.
And thanks so much to all my oh so special fb friends for all their encouragement and hilarious chirps and pics as they got behind ‘La’s Olympic Dreams!’ and for the complete and delightful suspensions of their 'disbeliefs!' ( I have always wanted to say that!)
And look out for La's West End Dreams starting in September coming to a theatre near you!
And here's wishing all the superb teams of the 2012 London Paralympics the best of British luck!!!
More La’s Olympic Dreams at http://songolola.com/1/category/las%20olympic%20dreams20ce1c2086/1.html
Visit The World of La facebook page under construction! Link below
Main article pic by Mark Legward
Other pics remain property of owners and used here by way of blog only
script © 2012 Lawrence Hilton