Come on, Britain! Stop moaning! It's the Olympics, for heaven's sake!

We are guaranteed the gold for pessimism, but is that the trophy we want, wonders David Randall

With four months to go before the opening of the 2012 Games, Britain has already shown it has no equal at one of the traditional Olympic events – looking on the gloomy side of the impending global extravaganza. Businesses, entire commercial sectors, interest groups and special pleaders in the capital and far beyond are issuing warnings that, in ways no one could ever have anticipated, the London spectacular will be an unmitigated disaster.

The dire predictions range from drought, strikes, aerial attack, audiences deserting theatreland and blood supplies being delayed by traffic gridlock to violent protests marring the torch relay, East End pubs being prevented from holding parties, extra parking restrictions, private aircraft being grounded and a possible shortage of anthrax vaccine.

The authors of these gripes show that, as ever when it comes to excelling at Olympic events, years of preparation have paid off. Press releases have been honed, sombre-faced spokesmen rehearsed, and the result is that we have, according to several observers, already sewn up the whingers relay, swept the board at the pessimists' pentathlon and are sitting morosely on top of the moaners' medal table.

There is even a lively market in betting on some of the worst possible outcomes at the Games. You can get 66-1 on the Olympic flame failing to arrive at the opening ceremony, 25-1 on a power cut bringing the ceremony to a grinding halt, 4-1 on the BBC having to apologise for a commentator using inappropriate language, 2-1 on an athlete missing an event because of transport problems, and 7-2 on the Olympic village running out of condoms.

Indeed, so striking has been the downcast reaction in many quarters that the American Associated Press yesterday even sent out a story on the international wires headlined "Britain awash in gloom as London Olympics approach". The article says: "Britons have a reputation as natural-born grumblers who love nothing more than to complain, and the Olympics have proved to be a perfect outlet for naysayers and killjoys." It goes on to quote Ellis Cashmore, a professor of culture, media and sport at Staffordshire University, putting it all down to our national character. "This is very typical of the British mentality. There is a quite healthy recognition of our own limitations. There is a tradition in Britain to think, 'Well, we really don't do things that well, you know. If anyone can screw it up, the British can.'"

All recent Olympics have had their build-ups blighted by the doom-mongers, and, no doubt ahead of the first modern Games in 1896, Athens newspapers carried stories about how visitor numbers at the Parthenon would be down, and the city's raisin-sellers put out of business. Neither occurred.

However, when it comes to self-deprecation, we Brits have few equals. Time for a change of mood, now folks. Cheer up, Britain! It might never happen.

Why we love Jessica

Today, The Independent on Sunday salutes Jessica Ennis, the golden girl of British athletics. No, not for her sporting prowess, though that is unquestioned: she notched up another personal best in the pentathlon at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul. But for her grace when she thought for a moment that she had won, thanks to a screen telling her so after the final event, the 800m.

It quickly recalibrated, and decided that Olympic champion Nataliya Dobrynska had won instead. Britain's favourite was left celebrating, then grimacing, then flashing a self-deprecating smile, a lesson in how to lose with grace, and a role model to young competitors everywhere.

Agree with us? The first 30 people to email us at sundayletters@independent.co.uk can be the proud owners of an "I love Jessica" badge. Or, if that's not your bag, please join our Twitter campaign by following @IndyOnSunday and RT-ing #jessicahero.

Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
Al Pacino in ‘The Humbling’, as an ageing actor
filmHam among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Mario Balotelli in action during his Liverpool debut
football ...but he can't get on the scoresheet in impressive debut
Environment
Pigeons have been found with traces of cocaine and painkillers in their system
environmentCan species be 'de-extincted'?
Arts and Entertainment
booksExclusive extract from Howard Jacobson’s acclaimed new novel
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
A Pilgrim’s Progress is described by its publisher as “the one-and-only definitive record” of David Hockney's life and works
people
Sport
Loic Remy signs for Chelsea
footballBlues wrap up deal on the eve of the transfer window
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker
TV
Life and Style
Instagram daredevils get thousands of followers
techMeet the daredevil photographers redefining urban exploration with death-defying stunts
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'
TVDaughter says contestant was manipulated 'to boost ratings'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor