Chris Hewett: One in the eye for the man in the street who wanted to watch a spot of archery

The critic without a ticket: It seemed beyond bizarre to deny the sport its biggest moment on these shores since 1066

If politics is showbusiness for ugly people, as a wise man once suggested, Olympic-tinged politics propels its ill-prepared performers into a stardust land of their own imagining – into some neon-lit combination of Broadway, Sunset Boulevard and the West End, with a hint of the Cannes Film Festival mixed in for good measure. Twenty years ago, Neil Kinnock fell victim to the razzle-dazzle syndrome at a Labour rally in Sheffield and wowed his party to the most miserable of defeats at the ballot box. Did Boris Johnson (inset) recall the fine detail of that wholly avoidable electoral calamity before making a prize pillock of himself in Hyde Park? Apparently not.

It has long been obvious that the Mayor of our capital city sees something virtuous in his own pillockicity, just as William George Bunter believed gluttony to be a wholly admirable trait. If it is genuinely the case that the man has Prime Ministerial ambitions – we're talking BoJo here, not the Fat Owl of Greyfriars, although it's as long as it is short – he might be advised to gravitate towards gravitas. Unless, of course, the great British public go for Johnson for the same reasons the Italians went for Berlusconi. In which case, God help us all.

While the Mayor was spitting verbal darts in the direction of the American presidential candidate Mitt Romney – careful Boris: if those Mormons come knocking on your front door, there'll be more than one of them – a sports nut of rare dedication was flying all the way from Mexico to watch the opening rounds of the archery at Lord's, only to discover that the event was closed to the public and that the man in the street would be bloody well staying there. Seven years in the planning… and no entry to the great unwashed. Brilliant.

Now, it is fair to say that access to Lord's has, on occasion, been denied to individuals just a little more celebrated than the average bow-and-arrow enthusiast. If the oft-told story is to be believed, Sebastian Coe himself once had a problem with a Cerberus-like attendant who flatly refused to grant him admission. "Your gate is on the other side of the ground," he said, and on being advised of the mighty middle-distance runner's identity, he added: "In which case, you'll get round there all the quicker."

Yet as the only rival attraction yesterday was the medical inspection of the three-day event participants (horses, not riders), it seemed beyond bizarre to deny the sport its biggest moment on these shores since 1066. While archery was not a precise science back then – "Watch that bloke, Harold, he'll have somebody's eye out" – it is hardly a danger to life and limb under Olympic conditions. Im Dong-hyun of South Korea performed with such jaw-dropping accuracy in breaking the world record during the ranking competition no one was allowed to watch, it would have been possible to use the target as an armrest and be entirely safe.

Ironically enough, it might be a little more perilous as the medals are being decided today, when proceedings move from the Nursery ground behind the Lord's media centre to the holy of holies itself. According to Jonathan Agnew, the BBC's cricket correspondent and by some considerable distance the finest broadcaster in the sport, the archers will be aiming across the square and will therefore be subject to the same forces that routinely compel good bowlers, Agnew included, to drift outside leg-stump. On this basis, anyone watching from the Tavern side of the stadium may quickly find themselves in Bayeux Tapestry territory. So, for that matter, might anyone who mistakenly sets foot on Mick Hunt's pitch ahead of the forthcoming Test against South Africa. Hell hath no fury and all that.

Yesterday was almost entirely about the Opening (capital "o" essential) Ceremony (capital "c" ditto), scheduled to begin at the unfeasibly late hour of 9pm – unfeasible, certainly, if you recall that Bruce Springsteen had the plug pulled on him a couple of weeks back. Speaking as a simple West Countryman, these London types should think through their priorities. A late-night rendition of "Thunder Road", or a firework-festooned IoC shindig in the East End? No contest.

Just as there were no contests to be viewed on the television yesterday – a fact that drove dedicated Olympophiles into the wide-open arms of Radio 5 Live, where the preview hype was in full swing pretty much throughout the day. We heard from anyone who had anything to with a member of Team GB, however famous or anonymous. There were mums and dads, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, teachers, lecturers, former coaches, vicars and priests, father confessors, philosopher kings… every last person with any claim to a meaningful association present or past, barring probation officers and gynaecologists. Interested in the school reports of Jessica Ennis? 5 Live had it all down pat, chapter and verse.

And all the while, the first proper Olympic sport – football? oh puhleeese – was unfolding in secret, away from the prying eyes of the poor deluded fools who turned up to cast an eye. Tomorrow? Boxing in Wormwood Scrubs. Monday? Taekwondo at MI6. You know it makes sense.

Suggested Topics
News
Courtney Love has admitted using heroin while pregnant with Frances Bean Cobain, her daughter with Kurt Cobain
people
Sport
Murray celebrates reaching the final
tennis
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
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

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness