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Make Mine a Pint of LOCOG

Merchants in Esher, the Surrey
town in which I live, have been warned, I’m told, that banners or displays promoting
products not approved by the London Olympic Organising Committee, will be
promptly and, if necessary, forcibly removed.   The purpose of this order of doubtful
legality is, of course, to protect the contractual branding rights of the
official sponsors of the Games.  They
include such purveyors of nutritious and health-giving brands as Coca Cola,
McDonald’s, Heineken and Cadbury
Nature Valley.

Esher’s significance to the Games is that, during several
days in July, convoys of Olympic cyclists will be pedaling through the town,
cheered on by tens of thousands of spectators and, more importantly, by
television cameras that will beam the event into scores of millions of homes
around the world.

LOCOG, whose methods are starting to resemble those of
the medieval zealots who provided the Spanish Inquisition with a regular stream
of victims, is represented on the local council by some faceless factotum
acting as the duly appointed enforcer. 
What a player!

Incidentally, LOCOG has just released a schedule of
prices for the comestibles to be served in the Olympic park.  Heineken beer will be available at £7 a pint,
which is twice the national average of a pint of the same brand.  Visitors may be better off ordering tea,
which at £2 per cup is a steal, at least when compared to the prices charged in
London hotels
these days.  They may prefer to stick to
water, which LOCOG proudly announces will be dispensed free of charge.

LOCOG’s chief executive, Paul Deighton, finds nothing
exploitive in the prices published yesterday, stressing that they are more or
less in line with those charged at venues that stage grand sporting
events.  Well, that’s precisely the
problem, I’d say.   

Without a hint of irony, he declares, “We are proud
that the catering industry has been quick to adopt the standards of our food
vision, leaving a strong and sustainable industry as the legacy of the Games”.

He may be right about strong, but I hope he’s wrong
about sustainable. 

I dare say I’ll be in Esher
on the day the ghostly phalanx of bikers hurtles through, and I’ll be
celebrating in The Bear with a pint of something.

It won’t be Heineken’s, thank you.


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