Sunday, 8 April 2012

Messing about on the river

Lenin said that it was the tops of trees that shake first in a storm - as a metaphor for the phenomenon that the stirring of elements at the top of society, and in particular the youth of the ruling class, was the first indicator of revolution. Historically this seems undeniable. But when I see one posh boy risking life and limb to disrupt another bunch of posh boys' fun I'm inclined to think that it is just more twatish high jinks than a bit of situationist agit-prop:

Trenton Oldfield who swam across the path of the Boat Race and temporarily halted the annual gathering of the braying tribes of Barbour-clad young hoorays claims he was making a statement about elitism. I will pass over the irony of his own private school education or membership of the Royal Society of Arts. He works in urban regeneration management and claims that his choice of target was not simply the symbolic elitism of the annual Oxbridge fest - but  also the route of the race which takes in one of the posher stretches of the Thames. Hmmm. There a couple of serious points to be made here.

The current  domination of the political class by the products of Oxbridge has taken us back two or three generations before the liberal sixties or the supposed meritocracy of the post-war boom. And whole swathes of our inner city that were once  thriving working class communities have become desolate wastelands of chicken outlets, betting shops and pound stores just waiting for yuppiefication. So looking at my own neighbourhood - not quite an Olympic borough but bordering one - I have sympathy for the Stratford demonstrators. Amidst all the hype and pomposity about Olympic heritage and legacy they are raising a small voice to ask 'what's in it for us?'. Good luck to them.

On the other hand I fancy that Trenton Oldfield has struck a blow primarily for his own publicity. And that in the future he will resurface as some sort of minor personality. If I've done him an injustice or am proved wrong in the future  -I will apologise in advance now.

1 comment:

Robin said...

I think Trenton did a good job. The 'university' boat race is the most ridiculous sporting event in this country. It should be changed radically - i.e. contested between a team representing Surrey and a team representing Middlesex. Then the whole of London would have a reason to cheer a crew on and the whole community could get involved with shorter junior races in the build up to the main event. Crews would have to be resident in one old county or the other to take part.