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Sober Life
by Sinclair Newton



Sober Life

Going to the Empire Games was great fun, particularly because the stadium was already bedecked in sky blue and white, the colours of my beloved local football team.

They move there in a year or so and I see that Jonathan Edwards, the top triple-jumper, has clocked what I wrote last week.

It’s ridiculous that a stadium as great as this is being handed on a trowel to Manchester City Football Club who could well win the Premiership next year,” he almost said.

The Manchester Evening News won the Gold Medal for Imaginative Journalism on Friday though, covering the front page with an appeal to the English Minister for Sport, Dick Caborn.

Dick,” it said, “open your eyes.”

That was about it, really, apart from saying he was in Manchester that day and he should have a good look around at the enthusiasm with which people like to sell tourists as much beer as they can.

Then it said the Commonwealth Games had been an overwhelming success. It accepted that the running track has to go (it’s been rolled up and despatched to Birmingham) and that Manchester could never stage the Olympics on its own.

I must add here that Manchester City Football Club could not countenance a stadium where a running track meant their fans would be too far away from the action, should there be any.

Then it said the Minister should “take a good look around you.”

So what is that Dick has to open his eyes to? Is it that the Manchester Evening News, as part of the Guardian Media Group, was one of the Games’ sponsors?

Well, so was Imperial Leather and at least they made sure there was nice soap in the portaloos.

The whole point about the Olympics is that it invites bids from CITIES, not countries, that six of them bid every four years and that they have to actually create some of the facilities so they can be judged. It means that five cities have improved sporting facilities every four years that they wouldn’t otherwise have budgeted for, though they could have done.

I thought perhaps I would have stopped being so cynical about these empirical games in Manchester by now, but I haven’t. About five years ago I wanted to write a piecette saying: “We don’t want the Commonwealth Games here...”

But they’ve gone ahead and by Didsbury I think they’ve done it in their own Manchurian way.

The games end on Sunday night and I’ll be watching the fireworks again at the closing ceremony from the apartment where she-who-makes-real-chips lives. No doubt we’ll be having chips again, but at least she doesn’t drink and she’s never been to Ibiza.

Sinclair Newton