As someone with a fear of sport, I have been watching the Olympics with a cautious interest, like a climber testing the strength of the next foothold with a tentative toe.
The best thing so far, besides the female athletes' bodies (impressive and strong, not starved and skinny) and the male athletes' bodies (er, impressive and strong), is the fact the Post Office is painting a postbox gold in each medal winner's town. Nothing says you've succeeded in life like a gold postbox in your honour.
These Olympics are the only time Britain, so ordinarily coy about success, brazenly reaches to be the best without any shame. Self-deprecation is a strong suit normally, while boasting is anathema and the underdog is king. Here, the swimmer Michael Jamieson was delighted with his silver medal; compare that to the Australian attacks on James "The Missile" Magnussen's silver. "It's very humbling," Magnussen said after taking second place when he'd been so confident of gold. That kind of grasping does not sit comfortably with the British.
All you hear now is "everyone's a winner" on TV talent shows and singing competitions. "We're all winners," the contestants simper. "They're all winners," the judges say. No. Most of them are losers.
I am particularly affronted by nursery school graduations. What are we doing to our young people by dressing up four-year-olds in caps and gowns and buying them graduation cakes? "Well done," we are saying, "for turning up." That's not achievement – it's nonsense.
Grace in defeat is good for the mind: if everyone's a winner how do we learn to be good losers? While everyone is good at something, not everyone is the best at something. After 20-odd years of being averse to games I've finally learned the meaning of sport: a gold postbox is not special if all the postboxes are gold. It's a good lesson.
Wayne Swan, the Australian finance minister, has been ridiculed after sharing his inner soundtrack with the nation. Mr Swan, named Finance Minister of the Year 2011, said he takes his inspiration from that most melodic of economists, Bruce Springsteen.
"You can hear Springsteen singing about the shifting foundations of the US economy," he said in a lecture to the ruling Labor party. He gave a detailed discography of songs he uses, pertinent lyrics and how he relates them to policy.
The Conservative treasury spokesman, in opposition, was not best impressed. But what does he know? Everyone needs a private jukebox, a collection of inspirational hits to get them through the day. Nay, to get them through life. Lord only knows what Alex Salmond hums to himself while striding about Holyrood. Mr Swan's only error is confessing his preference in public. I fully advocate setting your life to music but keep it to yourself, mate, if only so you can take full credit when your wacky policies work out.
THE mayor of the German town of Triberg has taken an usual stance on road safety. Eschewing the likes of bus lane cameras or introducing new speed limits, cheeky Mr Strobel has used public money to paint tricky parking spots for men only. Easy-to-navigate spots have been allocated to women, the clumsy things. Mr Strobel likely cannot help himself from impertinent behaviour: his first name is Gallus.
The move has not been fondly welcomed by the womenfolk of the town but, personally, I think it's a great idea. Wee Stella the Micra has been bumped and bruised many a time by useless drivers. I'd love an extra-wide parking space to manoeuvre her into and besides, if the men want to make life that little bit trickier for themselves then go wild, I say.
Now, can I persuade Glasgow City Council to use the £1 million it has raked in from its new bus lane cameras to paint me some easy-fit parking spots?
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