Wednesday, 20 August 2008

BrokenTV Goes To The Olympics: Live From Beijing

You know, after that last post we made concerning the Olympics and the Chinese government, we felt pretty bad. After all, they're trying their best. Keeping a nation containing over one billion people under control can't be easy. Sure, they have to put the odd citizen or autonomous region on the naughty step from time to time, but have you ever tried running the world's largest single-party socialist republic? Well, there you go.

With this in mind, it would be almost hypocritical to sit at home, typing sarcastic comments about how Chinese authorities have sentenced two women in their 70s to a year's "re-education through labour" after they applied to protest during the Olympic games. So instead, we've hopped on a flight to Beijing, trotted along to a likely spot where plenty of people are likely to see us, and set up a little trellis table. On this table we are displaying a scrummy array of tasty treats we've prepared especially for the Chinese authorities - egg and cress sandwiches, battenburgs, Mr Kipling apple pies with custard, two bags of Tesco Finest choc brownies, our mum's legendary lemon meringue pie, and lashings of dandelion and burdock. But we don't want the Chinese authorities thinking we're expecting some sort of renumeration for our offerings, so we've prepared a sign for them:

We weren't quite sure of the cantonese word for 'scoff', but this really friendly couple from Dagenham happened to pass by while we were colouring in the english lettering, and they were really helpful. They even helped us put the banner up there, but then had to make their apologies and leave. We think they were off to watch the three-day eventing. But anyway, while we sit by our trestle awaiting our first visitors (which might take a while - people seem to be crossing the road to get away from us! They're probably on diets or something) we'll crack on with today's update.


10. Cannon Shooting (Paris 1900, demonstration sport)

Annoyingly, there's no real information out there for this demonstration event from the second proper modern Olympics, but there it is on the GBR Athletics website, and they seem to know what they're on about. They're being used as a source on Wikipedia, so they must have some standing. Actually, so is BrokenTV, thereby devaluing that currency.

Anyway, we imagine the whole affair was pretty much the same as Scorched Earth, only with more flags.

9. Ballooning (Paris 1900, demonstration sport)

Not just one ballooning event, mind. There were races in Distance (Handicap), Distance (No Handicap), Duration (Handicap), Duration (No Handicap), Elevation (Handicap), Elevation (No Handicap), Target without Stop, Distance & Duration and Overall. Sadly, no medal for 'nicest looking balloon', so the Arkwright Industrial Laundry Co. wasted their time assembling that huge fuck-off inflatable mangle. For anyone who might be wondering, France's Comte Henry de la Vaulx kicked a goodly amount of ass in most disciplines.

8. Kite Flying (Paris 1900, demonstration sport)

We kid you not. Kite Flying. Even more remarkably, it came in three different disciplines - small, medium and large. The gongs were taken by Flecheux, Rouillard and Lecornu in their respective classes. Holding onto bits of string with fabric and wire at the other end as a competitive endeavour actually dates back a long way, with recorded instances of it happening in ancient Korea. Sadly, the sport has fallen so far from favour that for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, local residents have actually been banned from flying kites for the duration. Boo!

7. Fire Fighting (Paris 1900, demonstration sport)

Really, we're not making these up. See? As soon as someone invents time travel, we're going straight back to Paris in 1900, because all these events make it sound quite wonderfully demented. Again, there were two different disciplines - the Volunteers gold was taken by Portugal, with the doubtlessly rakish Team GB nabbing silver. The Professional medal was taken by the US team, with Italy coming second. Or 'last', as they were the only two teams competing at that level. When we go back in time to visit these Olympics, we're going to enter this event armed with just a two-litre bottle of tap water. We'll get the bronze by default, come back to 2008, display it on Antiques Roadshow, and make a mint. Excellent.

6. Cricket (Paris 1900)

A proper event, this time. With just two teams taking part, Britain and France. Britain won! Although given the French team consisted of Britons living in Paris, reportedly mostly members of the British Embassy, it's not such a massive victory. We're not sure the newspapers were furrowing their brow to think up a tortuous pun combining the word 'gold' with a cricketing term that day.

5. Korfball (Antwerp 1920, Amsterdam 1928, demonstration sport)

Mixed netball, essentially. It may well have ended up the same way the attempts at getting the boys from BrokenTV's primary school to join in netball with the girls did, with half the players attempting to turn it into a amalgam of basketball and rugby. In school, they only tried it the once. In the Olympics, twice.

4. American Football (Los Angeles 1932, demonstration sport)

Winners: West USA. Hang on, West USA?

3. Roque (St. Louis, 1904)

A confusing mash-up of croquet, crown green bowls and billiards, played on sand. The USA won all the medals, because they were the only country to understand the rules.

2. Rackets (London, 1908)

But the Americans aren't the only nation to win all the medals because it's their Olympics, so they get to pick the sports, and yah boo to everyone else if they don't know how to play. No, you're doing it wrong, you lose. 1908 saw the only appearance of rackets, which was pretty much squash for people with no chins. Don't believe us? Here's a picture from Wikipedia entitled "A Toff playing with the rabble in Prison":

That's the likes of us told!

Seven people entered. All of them were British. As such, we romped home in both the singles and doubles events. Yes, doubles. Fingers crossed for being allowed to nominate darts, shove ha'penny and complaining in supermarkets about your town of 80,000 residents going to pot because a few dozen East Europeans have moved in as events in 2012.

1. 200m Men's Obstacle Swimming (Paris 1900)

Brilliant. You could have guessed Paris 1900 would be making it back into the list in time for the top spot, couldn't you? And we didn't even mention the equestrian long and high jump, equestrian mail coach, pigeon racing, motor cycling, angling, basque pelota, rugby union, life saving or long paume, which all took place. Instead we've got a swimming event where "swimmers had to climb over the first two (a pole and a row of boats), and swim under the third (another row of boats)".

Twelve swimmers from five nations took part. Australian Fred Lane, representing Great Britain, won the only Olympic gold medal ever to be awarded for this event, which he won just forty-five minutes after winning the more reasonable 200m freestyle swimming gold. A certain level of respect due for that, but by the time Fred finally passed on in 1969, the event in which he took a unique Olympic gold was about to be relived by children all over his adopted country. Sadly, these tributes were to take place in hundreds of different municipal baths and being commentated on by a chuckling Ron Pickering, as a sport originally envisioned as an Olympic ideal was relegated to the level of Something To Put At The End Of Episodes Of We Are The Champions on Children's BBC. Worse yet, by 2008 it would be at a level where it's beneath even the Sky One reimagining of Gladiators.

Not much of a tribute to an Olympian pioneer, is it?


Ah, here are some strapping Chinese law enforcers now. Hello, gents. Would you like some cake? No, would you like some cake? What are you shouting for? WOULD YOU LIKE SOME CAKE? APPLE PIE? No, it says 'Free scoff'. No, we're not reporters. No, we don't have any hidden cameras recording this. What a silly question! Now, would you like a cup of dandelion and burd... ow! Ow! Ow! Why are you hitting us? Ow! Where are you taking us? What are you bundling us into? Ow!

5 .:

Tom said...

FYI: The Chinese on the sign says "Tibet self-rule".

Pedanto-matic comments --
Cantonese is not spoken in Beijing. The local lingo is Mandarin.

The equestrian events are being held in Hong Kong (where I am *right now*!), not Beijing, on account of the mainland having terrible horse-plagues that kill within hours, or something.

P-c Whillikers' Unentertaining Comment said...

Hello x 3. Everything between "Kite Flying (demonstration sport)" and "Volunteers gold" appears here as a series of tiny illegible scratches. I suspect this is something to do with the mysterious "font-size:+0" style flung about within. Evening all.

Mark X said...

Most strange. I'm guessing I've somehow broken that part when correcting the inadvertently amusing (and quite unpleasant sounding) typo "crown green bowels" earlier on. Fixed now, Constable W.

Oh, and cheers for the corrections Tom. Of course, there's a special prize at the end of the year for the reader who spots the most of the deliberate mistakes we've scattered throughout the blog in 2008.

P-c Whillikers' Unentertaining Comment said...

Hello x 3. Yep, that's got it. And to think I nearly missed a section about setting things on fire. Fires are catnip to us P-cs. We can wave people back imperiously or bosh them on the nut and everyone cheers regardless. Evening all.

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