by Sinclair Newton
I dont know if you can get a drink at the Empire Games, as they used to be called when there was one, but one thing Ive been told is that you cant smoke anywhere in the new Manchester City arena.
Im going tomorrow and I get to see the end of the marathon and other assorted things such as the Turks and Caicos Islands competing in the shot put.
I bet this is the one time Spain is sorry not to be in the Commonwealth. Think about it: Ibiza could win a gold medal in the slings and arrows event. Formentera could get a bronze for sunbathing.
Mind you, its not really a top-class athletics thing in the generally accepted sense of such occasions. Its the Friendly Games, the Queen said. I read that the organisers in Manchester have supplied 150,000 condoms for the athletes village. Thats about three-a-day each, I reckon. Theyve been able to cut down because the swimming isnt until next week. Normally the swimmers have finished with the silly part of these events (swimming) in the first week and have, ahem, time on their hands towards the end.
The weather is going to be fantastic, of course. And so will be the welcome from the Ibiza-loving Mancunians. I understand there are thousands of them who subscribe to LiveIbiza.com. And I dont believe theyll agree with this no-smoking thing, either.
I watched the opening ceremony from a friends 11th-storey apartment, cheek by jowl with the Red Arrows as they cruised by at about the height of our ceiling light. It was quite surreal. We had the telly on with the sound turned off and I estimated it took three seconds for the sounds of the 21-gun salute to reach us. You watched the puff of smoke on the screen and then waited for the dull thud. My friend remarked that she supposed there would be very little difference if you smoked a last fag and then jumped out of the window.
Far away across the East Manchester night sky (about six miles, I think) the stadium was bathed in a soft, sky-blue glow, just as it will be next year when Manchester City make it their new footballing home. Thats when the rest of Manchester realises that the other football team in this fair City have acquired a £100 million stadium with government aid. The fireworks were lovely seen from this vantage point with just a cup of tea to hand and I hope its not the last weve seen of them.
Being of sober mind, I suppose I ought to do the sums and work out if its true that the Games wont cost Manchester ratepayers anything. I think the council has been stashing money aside for the past seven years and can now say - hand on heart - that its all broken even.
But I dont believe I will. Ill
just spend a pleasant Sunday there (the Lord Mayor has promised us that it wont
rain) and do without either a drink or a cigarette. I suppose a swimmer is out
of the question, especially one from the Virgin Islands.
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