The Olympics is the biggest sporting event in the world, and Britain is honoured to be hosting them.
I couldn’t let such a monumental event go without comment. I couldn’t overlook a time of such national pride. To do so would be tantamount to cultural treason, and as bad as totally ignoring the Queen’s Jubilee or cheering for Portugal when they played England in the World Cup.
Not that I did that.
So here we are: the London 2012 Olympics, which as you may know are due to start in London on 28 July 2012, but actually began three days early, and not only in a different city but in a different country: Wales.
Not that I think Wales is really a country, and I’m Welsh, or at least my Dad was. If the Welsh Nats can’t talk me into independence for the land of my fathers, they’ve got no chance of persuading Express-readers in Tunbridge Wells. Which I find odd, considering how many Express-readers hate the idea of European integration. You’d think they’d like marriages between neighbouring countries, being part of a United Kingdom that’s been hitched together successfully for 500 years. But no, Wales is English, and must remain so, and Johnny Foreigner can just jolly well bugger off.
Not that I mind about Wales being English. Couldn’t give a rubbery yellow fuck. And as I mentioned, I’m as Welsh as you can be whilst still being English: I’ve got a Welsh surname, a fondness for wet hills, and a niggling and slightly paranoid suspicion that everyone in The South is out to get me and somehow robbing me of my inheritance; that sounds like the Welsh to me. But even I’m not persuaded that Wales is a separate nation. It is, at best, a soggy and bizarre headland where 2 million people share the same speech impediment.
Back to the Olympics. Yesterday was “Day 1”, but strangely it was also “Day minus 3”, which is a bit of a freaky thing to get your head around, like the IOC have got their hands on a Tardis and are determined to fuck about with us. Perhaps the reason they had to start early is because – and this is just a wild stab in the dark – because the Olympics is actually a vast, bloated wank-fest which has tried to accommodate too many sports and have too much cultural significance. Maybe it’s really just a bunch of people running about, and only an insane person would think it was worth spending £9 billion (plus) on a puffed-up school sports day. Maybe.
It began, like all conversations with a bloke in a pub, with football. As far as I can remember I’ve never played or watched football in my life, because I went to a rugby-playing school which bred actual men who don’t fall over and weep when the wind gets in their eye, and who are educated enough to discuss the large hadron collider or Mark Rylance’s return to The Globe, rather than the off-side rule or being as sick as a parrot. But I do know what football is: it’s that game that children played in the park before they grew up.
As a thorough non-expert I had a struggle to work out exactly what was going on during last night’s coverage, but I think I’ve got a handle on it now: there are 22 players on the field, who play for 90 minutes. The aim is to kick the ball between two posts. So that’s 33 man-hours of football played, and they managed to score one goal.
These, apparently, are professionals. If they were men, they’d all be paid millions to do this, and legions of flat-headed throwbacks would worship at their feet. Literally their feet. But instead these were women, and therefore the coverage focussed on the prettiest ones and overlooked the fact that they all have to hold down a second job as a barmaid, and clean the kitchen when they get in.
At this point I should make a confession: I didn’t watch it. Of course I didn’t. I think the whole thing is a farce, and the only reason I haven’t referred to the Fucking Olympics as the “Fucking Olympics” before now is that I’m trying to reduce the amount of swearing in this blog to the level I employ in real life, which is barely at all.
In fact what I did last night was spend some quality time with a young lady of my acquaintance, and made a lovely risotto. Here’s the recipe – serves 2, and leaves plenty to be heated in the microwave the next day for a lovely, healthy, cheap lunch:
- Chop an onion and fry it in a little oil at the bottom of a large pan for around 4-5 minutes, until it softens and starts to go clear.
- While this is happening, peel and cut a butternut in half. Scoop the seeds out and throw them away, and chop the flesh into small cubes, around 2cm square. Roast them at around 180° in a shallow baking tray and a little oil for 20-25 minutes (or until they start to brown).
- Now heat around 1 litre of vegetable stock (2 stock cubes in a litre of water).
- Throw 2 good handfuls of risotto rice (about half a typical box of rice) into the pan with the onions, and heat it a little – for about 2 minutes, stirring it into the onion. This makes the rice crack, and allows the flavours to soak into the rice.
- Now pour around 1.5 glasses of white wine onto the rice and onions, and crush in some garlic to taste. Stir the risotto until the wine soaks in.
- Tear up some fresh sage and throw it into the risotto.
- Get a ladle full of the stock and pour it into the risotto. Stir it gently over the heat until it soaks into the rice, then repeat until all the stock is mixed into the risotto.
- Season the risotto with black pepper to taste
- Stir the butternut into the risotto
- Chop up a soft goats cheese – about a handful – and throw it into the risotto, and stir it until the cheese turns sticky and delicious
- Serve with a nice, dry white wine and shaved parmesan (or veggie alternative from Waitrose).
You may have guessed that I’ve totally run out of things to say about the Olympics, and have a further 17 days to go. What were we thinking of?