Flamin Galahs

Two weeks ago the Olympic torch came to visit my offices, well they were my offices, now they’re my old offices aren’t they, my previous offices, the place I used to have to get up at stupid o’clock for offices. Anyhoo, I’m assuming the torch dropped by because we are a major sponsor, not because it was at a bit of a loose end and had nothing better to do before the opening ceremony. Word quickly spread, long queues suddenly sprung up in our restaurant (something of a first) and stereotypical sound bites suddenly flew around as people who will never in their life have any chance of competing in an Olympic event waited for a picture with this “little piece of history”. After all they’ll “never have the chance again” will they? Well no, maybe not, unless of course they make a point of relocating to the next host city every four years and working for one of the sponsors.

But  if that’s their logic, I don’t get it. I’ll probably never have the chance to drive a Ferrari, but that doesn’t make me whip out my camera and pose by it when I see one parked on the side of the road. Then again, bad example. If you’re from Melbourne you’ll know that any male between the ages of ten and eighty does exactly that. It all began to feel to me a bit like when you’re a kid and you go to the stores at Christmas. Suddenly it occurs to you that in a two hour trip you’ve seen four different Santa’s and enough elves to start a whole elf empire. Where’s the real torch Mummy?

Then lo and behold the next day it ran past us, the real one I mean, all aflame this time and being held aloft by someone only tall enough that I could see a flicker above the sea of heads crowding Fleet Street. It sailed past looking to me like someone had accidentally flambéed the chicken at an outdoor festival and they were maniacally searching for the sink. Actually I’m sure it wasn’t that exciting. I just like to put some extra oomph into my memories. You can pick and choose which parts of my stories to believe. Maybe I should put a disclaimer on here somewhere like they do at the beginning of a film, “based on true events”.


In case you can’t tell, I’m a bit bah humbug about the torch, but I enjoyed watching all my work colleagues’ reaction to it. The only time you get that many people in suits milling about the streets is, rather ironically, when there’s a fire alarm and we have to evacuate. I wonder how much money was lost for that twenty minutes while everyone downed tools and hoisted i-phones and i-pads. I wonder how long it will take for someone to actually do the sums and put out a report on lost revenue. I wonder how much increased profit the coffee shops had since after everyone had cheered on the torch like it was a rock star they all seemed to grab some java on the way back to their desks.

I enjoyed my desk mate’s version of it this torch business. He’s into symbology and conspiracy and scoffs at the masses revering the torch for entirely different reasons to me. He told me how the Olympic Games are really just a funnel for the New World Order and contain a plethora of satanic, occultist and pagan symbols. Whether it be the Olympic mascots, the numbers five and zero which occur in the rings, the torch ceremony itself, it’s all symbolic he says, and what better vessel than sport to break down cultural barriers, to unite the world in one global endeavour, to bring about the New World Order. Dun dun daaaaa.

Interesting. Nothing like a good dose of conspiracy theories for morning tea, but really, I don’t think so. I think it’s more likely that there’s only an infinite number of symbols in the world to begin with, and they often represent more than one thing. From childhood we are all saturated with the most common of these in advertising and books and music, it’s only natural that modern day designers, writers and artists would use symbols considered pagan or occultist, whether they know they are or not.

But back to my original ponder. Why does holding a replica of the torch make people feel they are a part of the Olympic Games? Are most people so obsessed with fame and worried about missing out on something that everyone else has, that even a hunk of metal which isn’t even the actual, original, flammable original is sure to draw a crowd? Is it because it’s famous, and everyone else is having their picture taken with it, and maybe one day when they’re 80 they’ll  be able to tell their room mates at Sunnyside Home for the Elderly and Infirm that one time, many years ago, they held the Olympic torch, the fake one.

Ahhhhh. Pfft. Whatever floats your boat people. I’m sure if a toy version of one of the world’s most amazing fantasmagorical cameras came for a visit I’d go line up to play with it. Wouldn’t I?

Maybe everyone’s been downing jugs of Olympic spirit and I’m still on the wagon.

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