Wednesday 29 February 2012


Well done to the National Eisteddfod for copying Hafal's iconic camper-van motif. Following our van's appearance in the Wrexham Eisteddfod last year they are hiring a 1963 split-screen called Dilys to tour the Vale of Glamorgan and drum up some business in advance of the event. They will certainly need all her help as they will be competing with the dreaded Olympics which will be happening down the road in London the same week in August.

I don't want to sound sniffy about Dilys but she just isn't a match in any beauty contest with Hafal's classic as she has a style-free dormobile roof and lacks the chrome trim (only fitted to the De Luxe models) and the 21 windows. Still, she is elegant enough and could be effective in exciting interest in this anglophone tip of Wales (did you know that Barry is well south of Bristol?).

It is regarded as rather unpatriotic and spoil-sport to oppose the London Olympics but I don't apologise for flagging up the enormous, truly eye-watering price which tax-payers and indeed charities (because of the huge subvention of Lottery money) are having to pay for professional athletes to meet over a few days. But rather than cavil perhaps I could just celebrate two previous Olympic games which I think provide excellent models for how these things should be done.

The 1948 London Olympics have received some patronising and sneering coverage because they cost almost nothing and the athletes were put up in army camps and had to catch a bus to the venues (thoughtfully they were given special ration cards - the same as were provided to miners and dockers). But guess what? The athletes were able to run and jump just as well as if enormous amounts of cash had been spent.

The 1996 event in Atlanta was a lot more lavish...but didn't cost the American public so much as one dime. This was because somebody worked out that the sponsorship possibilities were extensive and with ticket sales could easily meet all the costs. In fact the games made a useful profit of $10 million. Lord Coe and his chums might have benchmarked that approach instead of chucking £15 billion - yes fifteen thousand million pounds - at this glorified school sports day - sorry I meant to say "celebration of all that is good in Britain, centre of world attention, lasting legacy in East London, etc, etc".