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Kevin Kiernan turns his thoughts to the Queens Jubilee, Olympic matters, an elite team of Barbican Association grumblers and protestors and HRH ‘Victor Meldrew’

Kevin Kiernan N ormally once the House Summer Party

Barbican Association AGM, that jewel in the Social Calendar, is over, we can only really look forward to the Mountjoy before the

autumn leaves begin to fall and we need to start shopping early for Christmas. But this year we have both the Diamond Jubilee and Olympics to delight us. The Queen has maintained a

dignified presence over the past 60 years, in contrast to Prince Philip who can make the odd grumpy gaffe. I note he has been dubbed ’H.R.H Victor Meldrew’ by one pundit. I sometimes, mischievously, wonder whether it is in fact the other way around. The Queen would love to make the occasional gaffe, but knows that doing so would raise a few eyebrows. So she persuades Philip, a normally, scrupulously polite man, to act as her reluctant, proxy Gaffer . She spots a suitable victim in the crowd and dispatches Philip to put his foot in it. If he refuses she threatens to abdicate and Charles will be King. Apparently that settles the issue. As soon as the Jubilee is over, the

final set of road works will be finished and we will swap one set of disruption for another. A quart of Olympic crowds, trying to fit themselves

into the

Transport for London pint pot. Indeed some of the roads

have been

commandeered for the exclusive use of VIPS, so the pint pot is smaller than normal. Oh joy. Of course, being the host has advantages as well as headaches. For example we can pick a new sport to be included in the Olympic programme. Synchronised swimming, introduced in 1984 has added much to people’s idea of the Olympic dream. Although the synchronisation was

only tested

properly when it became a team rather than, unbelievably, a solo event. Rather oddly, it is even now deemed unsuitable for men to take part in – possibly because we can’t multi-task. Which new sport should we choose?

Or could we even take the opportunity to drop some? Baseball and Softball


were recently excluded on the ground that both are covered adequately by the British game of Rounders. Rather than introduce a new sport,

such as the stately BMX, we could adapt existing ones with modern extras. How about all the current events, but with the contestant speaking into a mobile phone at the same time. How useful would that be! Rowing springs to mind as easily adaptable (whereas pole vaulting does admittedly need both hands). Indeed in the longer boats

it’s only one oar per

person, so perfect. Of course not just random talking or texting, it would have to be a script that can be checked for diction and accuracy – Such as ‘I am on a boat. I should get to the finishing line on time’. Perhaps we could introduce a new

sport which has a practical application, such as how much shopping you can get into a single basket at Waitrose to take advantage of the express check out? This would be a good combination of balance, gymnastics and weightlifting. Should the Olympics give us a legacy not only in architectural white elephants but also in the way we, and the Barbican Association in particular, go about things. We are regularly beset by Olympic size challenges – whether it be a bank wanting to build a building so large that we shall never see the sun again or Crossrail – the peril of the Deep. CrossRail rather reminds me of the

game where you have a stack of wooden bricks and you take it in turn to take a brick out without the whole pile toppling over. The Tower blocks are already

perched on top of the

Metropolitan line and now CrossRail is burrowing underneath the Tower blocks like woodworm. Both these issues are meaty ones but

perversely I confess that smaller things (such as a noisy five a side football at the Girls’ School) often tend to bother me more. Therefore if a large issue arose near my block I would probably be completely unsuited as an efficient protestor. Whereas in the rest of Barbican there are probably dozens, even baker’s dozens of people, who in

my position would be writing, lobbying protesting. I would be letting the side down. The solution seems clear that the

Barbican Association could form an elite team of protestors. As virtually everyone on the Barbican lives in a flat similar to others, I could swap for a short period with one of these protestors, someone who cares much more about whatever development is being planned. Their sense of outrage would be strengthened by being directly affected and they would avoid the accusation of being part of a rent a mob. The BA must have their list of people who would fit the bill, or, if not, then the Estate office must have a roll of usual suspects who are good, efficient complainers. To have them all tactically in one Block would give us a crack elite squad who would bring fear and trembling to any developer. A true Olympic Legacy. This

protesting team might even be honoured in the Platinum Jubilee by H.R.H Victor Meldrew himself.

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