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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?