Saturday, July 7, 2012
Crow's got game
Crow here. I must admit to feeling a bit ruffled after my last long flight. I'd just returned from an extended sojourn in the South Seas and had been hoping to spend some time continuing to dictate my memoirs to susan - she of the pen wielding skill. Then what should occur the very next morning as I was settling on to the perch in my library but an urgent message delivered by one of the local pigeons. It was a summons requiring my immediate presence in London to meet the Queen. No, not that Queen but the other - the older, wiser, and far more regal Queen of the Pigeons.
I had understood that many birds and other animals, including some well off humans, had been planning to leave London for the duration of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games that will begin at the end of the current month. What I hadn't been aware of is that London's pigeon community and far more humans have been given no choice but to leave the city they call home because of the games.
It is expected that there will be 900,000 Olympics-related visitors in London during the games, on top of the usual 1.5 million tourists that typically arrive in the capital every August. Private landlords are seeking to make a financial killing as there are only around 110,000 hotel rooms in the London area, with almost a third of those already allocated to Olympic personnel. Many hotel rooms have been booked for months and even for years. This means that landlords have been evicting renters at very short notice so they can charge visitors huge sums for short term accommodation in July and August. Even the Queen's Royal Roost at the summit of Big Ben has been commandeered for film crew use and she has had to relocate her court to the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. It's a nice enough spot but she would have preferred a place closer to Trafalgar Square where she can keep her majestic eye on the rowdy young pigeons who like to steal sandwiches from unwary children.
Like clockwork every four years the Olympics take place in a different city somewhere in the world. Humans may not be able to fly unaided by technology, nor can the swiftest of you run like jaguars; I probably shouldn't even mention human strength is nowhere near that of an elephant, but overall physical competition is a good thing. What isn't beneficial is throwing poor people out of their homes simply because you need the property for a traveling circus. This seems to be something of a habit. When Beijing hosted the last summer Olympics thousands of people were relocated as neighborhoods were razed to make space for Olympic games venues and housing. Home owners were compensated but renters were simply displaced. Rio de Janeiro, scheduled to host the summer Olympics in 2016, is already undertaking the demolition of several favela communities in order to provide space in that city.
Now as I've mentioned before, I believe the games are great - it's wonderful to see people exercising rather than running around killing each other (or us) but what I can't help but wonder is why there can't be a permanent space where the summer Olympics are always held? The games date back to 776BC where they were always held in a little town in Greece called Olympia. As you can see from the picture there's lots of open building space there now and goodness knows the Greeks could use the money that would certainly pour into their economy. Why not?
I haven't talked at all about the winter games but I'm sure you might have some ideas about a country whose climate is permanently cold. Considering global warming, somewhere in Antarctica might be best for the near future at least.
Well, soon it came time for me to leave London and as I bid adieu to my Peerless Pigeonate, I was happy to reassure her that the rooftop missiles surrounding the London Olympics will not be aimed at her people but will merely serve to motivate the athletes.