Something unlooked for has happened over the last two weeks. Many of us have been turned from Olympic scepticism towards – if not an entirely uncritical enthusiasm – a frame of mind which acknowledges it has caught a glimpse of the kind of society which we could be, and has taken inspiration from it.
This morning I took part in Meeting for Worship in the small 18th century Friends Meeting House at Calf Cop in North Yorkshire. Situated in that area known to Quakers as '1652 country' where the borders of Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cumbria come within a few miles of each other, the Meeting House stands in a quiet burial ground bordered by pine trees and looks across an open landscape to the massive flat-topped mountain of Ingleborough.
The 'Olympishambles' and immoral attitudes towards employment
As anger and contempt at the 'Olympishambles' and for G4S' astoundingly hapless CEO fill columns and airwaves, little attention is being paid to the light this débâcle has shed on the callous and amoral attitudes towards employment which are taking root in our culture.
“The finances are in a mess, the Meeting House is a mess, it's ridiculous. You sitting here on your own. God knows who wandering in and out. It's not safe.” Thus spoke a reasonable man to an obstinate and visionary woman.
The local and the universal: reflections on a jubilee weekend
Almost thirty years ago, I went to the Yorkshire Dales with a group of friends to undertake an ascent of the Three Peaks. Penyghent, Whernside and Ingleborough make for a stiff day's walking. But we were very young and the challenge of quantity was more significant to us than the quality of more leisured ascent.
“Gross impiety it is that a nation's pride should be maintained in the face of its poor.” William Penn wrote these words in 1669. We have no means of knowing what his voice might have sounded like when he read them aloud, as he undoubtedly would have done, but when I hear them in my mind's ear, they are spoken with firmness and a touch of anger. They are words we do well to heed in our own time.
This is a small and densely populated island. Most of us live in urban or semi-urban environments. Even if we are fortunate enough to have some space around us, it is likely that work will take us into the area of traffic jams, parking problems, overcrowded trains, queues and their attendant frustrations.
These were to be the 'legacy olympics'. Regeneration of run down areas, the enthusing of young people with the ideals of sport and healthy activity, the showcasing of the UK (or at least its south-eastern segment), new stadia and facilities - all these have been presented as the quid pro quo for massive expenditure and the likelihood of a gridlocked capital city.