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Neither Here Nor There:


We were driving back to Salvage from Bonavista on a sunny summer afternoon sometime in the nineties. Descending the hill leading into Southern Bay we came upon Frances Quinton's shop, a classic outport general store.

Is it just me who is already tired of the Olympic hype?

Don't get me wrong, I find the actual performances of the athletes impressive, at times inspiring even.

But don't you sense a growing fatigue seeping into the back of your mind at the endless speculation about whether or not Canada will win the most medals? It seems to be all about money.

Did we spend enough money paying our amateurs, to ensure they would bring home those medals, thus glorifying our home and native land?

And while we're on the topic, isn't an amateur someone who competes for the love of the game, someone entirely unpaid, receiving no money?

There's that word again. Why does it always come down to that?

Does your mind begin to wander when your television screen displays for the eight hundred and eighty seventh time the Olympic symbol's five interlocking rings? We are told the rings represent the five continents: Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America, but don't they ever suggest other things to you?

They do me.

For example, I picture them as the holes in a set of stocks, the kind that once upon a time were used to lock up and display guilty citizens in public places, particularly those who had defaulted on debts. The stocks were a hinged apparatus that was opened to insert the guilty party's hands, feet and head, then closed again and locked.

Protruding helplessly from the five holes the poor prisoner's body parts, were utterly exposed, the better to be pelted by passers-by with rotten fruit or worse. This was a long time ago.

The stocks don't exist anymore. We are a more evolved species than that. Well, maybe you can still stocks in some uncivilized backwater ruled over by a barbaric government. Guantanamo Bay maybe?

If the Olympic rings in Vancouver are to be recycled, and used as stocks once again, who would we put in them? These are the Canadian Olympics, so maybe we should look for a Canadian as a likely candidate.

Who would be the best candidate to be locked into the stocks as an object of public ridicule for their part in an Olympic Games run at a colossal loss?

In 1976 the Mayor of MontrÉal, Jean Drapeau, heavily criticized for runaway spending on the Olympic stadium, sneered at the naysayers, "The MontrÉal Olympics can no more have a deficit than a man can have a baby."

Aislin, The MontrÉal Gazette's editorial cartoonist, pictured a naked Drapeau with his belly swollen out to here, making a telephone call to a fellow MontrÉaler, the most famous abortionist in Canada.

"Allo Morgentaler" he is saying.

I don't know if MontrÉal taxpayers are still paying down the Olympic debt 34 years later, but I do know the Olympic Stadium, the big O they call it, is still leaking.

Maybe those chosen as candidates for immortality by being placed in the Olympic stocks shouldn't be limited exclusively to those guilty of financial outrages. It wasn't for wasting our money, but Ben Johnson shamed us too. He deserves to be considered as a candidate.

The debate that followed his performance wasn't all that uplifting for us as a nation either. Many of us preferred not to notice the conversion of a fast skinny kid from Jamaica to a bling-draped beach-boy, pumped up like an inflatable sex toy. There are none so blind as we who will not see.

Once he was disqualified, Ben Johnson went from being referred to as 'a Canadian' to 'a Jamaican immigrant'. His shame was ours too.

Putting the entire population of Canada in the Olympic stocks would get a bit crowded though, so maybe we need to broaden the search for candidates.

I humbly suggest the President of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, as our candidate to be placed in the Olympic Stocks. (His name is pronounced rogue. Don't you love the way the truth always comes out eventually.)

President Rogge pays lip service to bringing the Olympics to the Third World, but during his term in office, costs, already far beyond the means of emerging nations, have continued to escalate. Big spenders all, the Olympic committee, and he's the boss.

As our Prime minister would tell you, Rogge would be a fitting choice for the stocks since here in Canada we're pro-rogue.

He should be held in the stocks for the duration of the Vancouver Games, or until the last flake of snow melts on the slopes of Cypress Mountain, whichever comes first.

Once locked firmly in the Olympic Stocks, this part-time orthopaedic surgeon and full-time Belgian Count, would serve as an ideal target for a brand new Olympic sport: 'Throw the Rotten Egg at the Aristocrat'.

Let the Games begin.

pickersgill@mac.com

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