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Wings Over Scotland

The Olympic enclosures

Posted on July 22, 2012 by

As the sun made its first appearance of the summer yesterday, Wings over Scotland wasn’t slow off the mark. On the “B” of the “BANG!”, we leapt onto a train for a two-hour journey to the seaside, specifically the lovely and historic south-coast town of Weymouth. It’s a remarkable place, changing character every time you turn a corner.

The front is a traditional resort promenade, with beaches and ice-cream stands and arcades. Just behind it is a picturesque working harbour town, tatty fishing boats mingling with some extremely fancy millionaires’ yachts. (Don’t miss the tasty and gigantic battered faggots at Bennett’s On The Waterfront fish and chip shop, by the way, the closest thing you’ll find to haggis in an English chippy and heavenly with a splash of onion vinegar.) Adjacent to both is a scruffy but bustling town centre, almost entirely free of the empty shops littering every other urban conurbation in Britain.

And if you embark on about five minutes’ leisurely stroll from the western end of the prom or the busy, noisy harbour and marina, you’ll find the town’s only sizeable area of public green space, in the form of the beautiful and peaceful oasis that is The Nothe.

Pronounced “know-th”, The Nothe is a stunning wee pocket of natural beauty that would look at home on the west coast of Scotland. It comprises a great swathe of open public parkland (known as Nothe Gardens) on a hill overlooking a rocky seaweed beach and a tremendous old World War 2 fort that we highly recommend forking out the six quid for a visit to, with glorious views out to sea and the Isle of Portland.

If you’re ever in the Weymouth area, we urge you to visit it. It’s beautiful, tranquil and practically deserted, despite its closeness to a major resort. (See also the second bay at Barry Island in south Wales, incidentally.) Just don’t try it for the next month or so, because the entire place is about to be fenced off.

Dotted around The Nothe currently are numerous cheerful and brightly-coloured notices indicating which parts of Weymouth are about to become off-limits to the town’s residents, and in the case of The Nothe that’s pretty much all of it.

The entirety of this huge public space will shortly become an exclusion zone (officially “The Nothe Ticketed Venue”) reserved for the sole use of paying Olympic spectators, from which they can watch the sailing events being hosted off the headland, while ordinary citizens are deprived of the use of a great chunk of their town for weeks. (Normal access is scheduled to be restored on August 17th.)

We don’t remember there being a referendum on whether Britain wished to spend billions of pounds on hosting the Olympics. We’re not aware of the inhabitants of Weymouth being given the chance to accept or refuse the annexation of their only green space by LOCOG for a month. We’re just glad we managed to get there when the sun was shining and ordinary scum like us were still generously permitted to walk the public streets and lands of our country.

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12 to “The Olympic enclosures”

  1. redcliffe62 says:

    I heard the Nothe was being turned into a G4S recruitment site for spectators who fancied a part time job, no training required and none given. Ability to speak English not required.
    Is there any truth to this rumour? 


  2. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    We didn’t see any recruitment posters or similar, but it was hard not to notice that of the numerous security personnel we encountered there, none of them had English accents.


  3. gnohbdi says:

    A public park shut for a couple of weeks(less?) during a once-every-50-years event. Hardly a terrible injustice.


  4. maxstafford says:

    Maybe not, but I doubt the locals had any say in the matter and that’s not right in my book.


  5. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “A public park shut for a couple of weeks(less?)”

    As noted in the piece, the area will be closed for almost a month, until August 17th.


  6. gnohbdi says:

    *I doubt the locals had any say in the matter*

     It’s public land, which means the state owns it, not the locals, despite what some people may erroneously believe ‘public’ means. (this means the Rev gets to come down on the train and swan about on it) Anyway, should the small number of folk in proximity to a resource dictate its usage in the context of a national (okay, okay…) event like this? I don’t think they get to do that.

    I find the brand-authoritarianism of the Olympics offensive, but in this case I believe we’ve veered into griping for the sake of it.

    And nearly a month – well, that’s still small potatoes in the context of a 50-year event.


  7. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    So it’s okay if I come to your house and brick you up inside it, so long as it’s only for a month once every 50 years? Sorry, but “It’s not for long!” is a shit argument. Fill in your own analogy.


  8. Appleby says:

    You seem to think repeating the mantra “50-year event” excuses anything. Odd.


  9. DougtheDug says:

    From the information I can find on the web it appears that the local council own the Nothe Fort and Gardens not the “state”. Maybe local voters should check up on their own council to see who thought it was a good idea to close the gardens to public access for a month during the Olympics.
    The Olympics aren’t a sporting event but are a corporate event which involves a lot of money, advertising logos, sponsorship, media companies and some incidental sport. What the corporations want the corporations will get. It’s also all wrapped up in the host country’s flag which adds a layer of patriotic fervour to the whole business.
    That’s the thing that’s really put me off these London Olympics. They’re not about the  individual effort of sportsmen and women but all about pushing the Union Jack onto every piece of merchandise you can think of and of making it a festival of British nationalism. The Olympic team has gone without a football team for fifty years so why was it so important to have one now and upset the SFA, FAW and IFA? These associations know that their national teams are now more at risk than ever of being subsumed into England because of this “Team GB football” project to Britify football.
    You don’t notice all the nationalist hype when it’s in someone else’s country but when it’s piped into your own it really grates. Especially when it’s compounded by the fact that like the media the hype about England sports teams it’s about a state that I’ve no emotional attachment to.


  10. Mike Landers says:

    These associations know that their national teams are now more at risk than ever of being subsumed into England because of this “Team GB football” project to Britify football.

    You are aware that the only reason for a Team GB football squad is because, as hosts, we are obliged to enter every single sport?  This includes stuff like Handball and Greco-Roman wrestling.  (Handball has required a team setting up from absolute scratch about three years ago.)

    There will never be another Team GB football squad.


  11. DougtheDug says:

    You are aware that the only reason for a Team GB football squad is because, as hosts, we are obliged to enter every single sport? 
    I wasn’t actually aware. I’m certainly aware that the host nation doesn’t have to qualify for events which allowed the GB Football team in as they haven’t played in any qualifying tournaments.
    Can you provide a reference to the Olympic rules which require the host nation to enter every competition in the games? I’ve never heard of that one.


  12. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

    “You are aware that the only reason for a Team GB football squad is because, as hosts, we are obliged to enter every single sport?”

    I cannot find a source for that claim either however I was able to find the Wiki entry that lists what ‘Team GB’ is automatically entered into. 

    There are some sports that we are not given an allowance for as ‘Host Nation’, these include Athletics and Basketball.

    Also, interestingly, the Rythmic Gymnastics team had to opt to use the ‘Host Nation’ qualification places but was almost never allowed to participate as they failed to meet the standards set by British Gymnastics (only achieving the passing score later) they were not going to be going to the games until they appealed the decision.

    So given that the UK didnt gain automatic entry to ALL games (which would be required if there was a need to compete in all events as Host nation), and that at least one of the teams was not going to be going (until the decision was overturned at appeal), it would seem that as ‘Host nation’ you dont need to enter every sport.

    So why is Team GB Football going ahead?


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