Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Made in Dagenham

You are cordially invited to bid on my special Olympics Torch paragraph below.  Reserve price is £752,000, or you can Buy It Now for just £3.2million.

"We had a little debate last night about the morals or otherwise of Torch Bearers flogging off their torch.  Morally it seems indefensible - even the ones offering to give to charity are giving just 10 or 20 per cent of their ill-gotten gains.  Some, as The Cat pointed out, may not be in a position to not sell - economic issues which have challenged many of us, have brought others to their knees or lower.  If I had been lucky enough to have been a bearer I would certainly have kept it for my grand children (now, there's an assumption).  I'd have been proud to have carried the flame and it would have taken pride of place on the mantle piece.  What I think we've seen is the grubby greed that has permeated these Isles in recent years.  Anything that could turn a profit should be sold.  There's no soul to be found, no pride, no spirit.  Anything for a bob or two.  But just as mad and bad are the people ready to bid absurd amounts for these things.  According to the organisers they're worth less than £500...but even ignoring the hoax bids, people are prepared to pay tens of thousands for them....no doubt in the daft assumption that they are an investment which can be sold off at a profit later.  A quick bit of research showed that you can by a Munich Olympics torch for £3000, and more significantly a Berlin Olympics torch for £4000...both those Games have real historical significance.  Let's hope the London Games don't.  The same hungry pack mentality took over for Olympics tickets...people applying for £thousands when they didn't really want them, they just didn't want to miss out.  I smile a very wide smile when I speak to people I know who gambled thousands to end up with tickets for events they actually don't want to go to."

I must mention that one of our friends is a baker and has been chosen to bake a cake for the Queen.  It will follow her in a barge down the River Thames on the day of the flotilla.  That's truly something to be proud of.

Last Sunday I was in Dagenham....famously home to Ford in Britain, and slightly more famous since the film about the winning of equal pay by women workers at the plant.  If you haven't seen it I suggest you get a copy of Made in Dagenham...its one of those that's heavily discounted and a fabulous watch.

There is an irony that Britain's industrial decline has left hundreds of acres of land empty in what was the heart of Ford's British empire.  And that is fortunate.  If you drive east along the A13 you come first to what's left of the Ford works, then their giant wind turbines before you can gaze to your left to see a colourful circus tent in the old dusty, pot-holed Ford car park.  And that is where the rehearsals for the Olympics are taking place. We have moved from the idyllic TV and film studios in central London to the windswept bleakness of the Thames estuary.  So now something new and exciting is being Made in Dagenham.  I'm not revealing anything that isn't public knowledge, because the space is clearly marked with large signs.  But we would all be grateful if you could drive past with your eyes closed so you don't get a sneak preview of what we're doing.  It's a surprise and you wouldn't want to spoil the surprise would you?  This Sunday and for the forthcoming weekends I and several thousand others will be there getting movement-perfect.  Only another 22 rehearsals to go

If it all goes to plan it will be a modern wonder.  'If' is a big word.  There's a lot to do, but I think we'll get there. Forget Beijing, our ceremonies will be different and much more in British theatrical tradition.  If you haven't seen it, here is an interview by Danny Boyle earlier this year on the BBC.   In answer to all those cynics who keep asking "Will it embarrass us"  The answer is a very firm and scathing "No".  It will do us proud.

I personally though may yet embarrass everyone.