Mayor on Wednesday: Olympics will succeed like Tall Ships Races

WITH the start of the Olympics only a couple of days away, the hype and excitement is reaching boiling point in many quarters.

In others, the cynicism and misery is almost deafening.

It very much reminds me of the build up to The Tall Ships Races two years ago, an event which I referred to many times as Hartlepool’s Olympic Games.

The run up to The Tall Ships Races was dominated by a small number of people looking to complain, pick faults and almost urging the event to fail.

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These people’s concerns never materialised during the event and in fact, The Tall Ships Races event passed safely, without incident and was enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people.

I’m certain there will be a similar pattern with the Olympics. The Games will be a magnificent spectacle and unrivalled success.

It will hopefully pass without any major incidents and be a great showcase for London and the UK. The problems with G4S will be covered and even some of the biggest cynics will enjoy this once in a lifetime event.

Undoubtedly, a few months afterwards, there will be moans about the cost or something minor that was less than perfect. The same happened with the Tall Ships.

The reason it always happens like this in this country is because there is nothing better us Brits like than a good moan.

As a race, I think we are happiest when we are moaning and whingeing. We generally find it very hard to compliment anything and our natural first instinct is to look for a fault in something or a reason why it is not very good.

I used to work as a waiter on cruise ships and everyone dreaded getting British passengers on their table for the cruise.

Not only were the Brits the worst tippers but, if you have been on a cruise, you will have received a comment card at the end of the trip to rate your experience.

As a waiter, it was vital that our passengers rated the dining room service as “Excellent”. Anything less almost certainly meant we would have a smaller station the following cruise, therefore less passengers and ultimately less tips.

The salary for a waiter was $50 per month so tips were absolutely vital.

Anyway, “Excellent” is not a word that is used very often by the British when it comes to everyday conversation so it was especially difficult to persuade the Brits to mark the excellent box on the card.

If there was ever a problem on the cruise, it would be rare if a British passenger told you about it at the time but you could guarantee they would have a good whinge about it afterwards and probably mark you down on the comment card at the end. It’s just the way we are.

There is a lot of criticism that nowhere outside London will get any benefit from the Olympic Games but I don’t agree with that. I think the torch relay has really lit up the whole country and the turn out and support has exceeded everyone’s expectations.

I believe Hartlepool has as big a stake in the Olympics as you could reasonably expect. One Hartlepool company delivered a contract worth more than half a million pounds as part of the development of the Olympic Stadium.

We had a great day when the torch came to town. There are dozens of Hartlepudlians acting as Games makers and giving up their time to volunteer at the event and of course we will be represented in Team GB by Jemma Lowe and Savannah Marshall.

Apart from perhaps hosting one of the squads as a training base, I’m not sure how much more we could be expected to be involved. I, for one, am proud that Hartlepool is playing a part in what will be the best Olympics the world has ever seen.

We will, of course, have our own epic event this Sunday as the demolition of the former Steetley chimney will take place at around 11.00am.

Everyone will have their own views and reasons why they will remember the chimney. For me, if I’d been away for any length of time, it was always the first thing I saw coming down the A179 towards Hart Village and I knew I was home.

A chimney demolition is a rare occurrence nowadays and usually one you would normally only see on television.

It promises to be a spectacular sight and I fully expect the crowds to turn out in force.

The beauty of it is that you can see the chimney from dozens of great vantage points right across the town so I suggest you think about choosing one of those as I expect West View Road and Old Cemetery Road to be jam-packed.

Congratulations to Dave Fricker who won the opportunity to press the button on this historic occasion and a huge thank you to everyone who bought a ticket in the raffle.

Hartlepool & District Hospice and Hartlepool RNLI are overwhelmed and very grateful by the support given to their charities.

It is fantastic that two great causes get to benefit from a big explosion and what will ultimately be a very dangerous derelict site being made safe again.