Today marks the opening of the Beijing Olympic Games.
We were in Beijing in September 2004, and saw the Olympic Countdown clock in Tianemen Square. Beijing was, while we were there, mercifully free of fog, although a a couple of the pictures look a bit hazy. Check the China link on the Been There, Done That pages.
These days I commute through Stratford in East london. Stratford is at the heart of the 2012 Olympic development zone and its fascinating to see how the area is being redeveloped. Old, run down industrial estates are being flattened to make way for lavish apartment complexes.
The skyline, from the train, is scattered with tower cranes, standing like storks against the pale east-end sky. I stopped counting at twenty five. I am confident that the whole skyline will change radically in the coming four years as the Olympic site is developed.
How impressive the British Olympic offering will be, in comparison to what the Chinese have achieved with ruthless disregard to the prior residents of the sites, and with an almost limitless budget, remains to be seen. I fear that we Brits will deliver some half-baked solution, which looks and feels cheap, but actually cost way over the odds.
Thats just the way it seems to be. Somehow we always end up paying over the odds for sub standard goods and services.
Its the British way.
And as for todays Olympic opening ceremony, beamed live from Beijing at 08.08.08.08.08 – I have a prior engagement. Ill be drinking at the Great British Beer Festival – now thats something we DO do well, but again, not cheaply.