Those 2012 Olympic ticket prices were released last week and there was a sharp intake of breath at the cost of some of the more "privileged" events. I spent all night on the blower and managed to be the first to get through to the ticket office which, for some reason has been outsourced to somewhere in Alabama. I had a good look around at what is on offer.
"Howdy doody. London Olympics ticket line, how can I help y'all?"
"Yes, hi, I wanted to find out about certain events and how much it would cost me."
"Which events are you particularly interested in, stranger?"
"Well, for a start, what about the opening ceremony?"
"Those would start at £20.12 and go all the way up to £2012."
"That just sounds like they've randomly made these prices up so that they sound like 2012."
"That's exactly what they have done, sir. You're a smart one, aren't you? I bet you wear a tie and all."
"No. No, I don't actually. What do I get for a £20.12 ticket?"
"Basically, that's the price of the toob ticket to get to the venue."
"What? I don't even get in?"
"No, but for an extra two pounds and 12 pence you get a small stepladder so you can stand and look over the wall."
"OK, what about the £2012 ticket? What do I get with that?"
"Well now, that is a right special ticket. On the morning of the opening ceremony Lord Coe arrives at your door and carries you piggy- back style through the streets of London to the venue. When you arrive he passes the baton to David Beckham, who cooks you a breakfast in your own private box while Sally Gunnell gives you a Shiatsu massage. You are then invited to actually light the Olympic flame by hurling a smoking Little Lord Moynihan into the bowl of gas."
"Wow, this sounds great."
"I haven't even finished. You and Christopher Biggins, Lord of the Jungle, carry the Union Jack round the stadium before you take part in a sensual, hi-nrg dance routine with Alexandra Burke and Michael Flatulence."
"It says here Michael Flatulence but that might be a typo. Is that a deal-breaker?"
"No, not at all. I'll definitely have that ticket. What else is available?"
"How about tickets to the men's 100 metres final?"
"How much are those?"
"Well, they go from £50 to £725."
"What's the significance of those numbers?"
"They represent the youngest and eldest members of the International Olympic Committee."
"Wow, they've really thought all this through!"
"What do I get for a £50 ticket?"
"You get a pair of binoculars and a map."
"Right, what about the £725 one?"
"These are very special– you get to be suspended on a wire and hung directly in front of the competitors as they limber up. Then, when the gun is fired (by you) you're flown down towards the finish line just in front of the runners like some weird flying hare in a dog race."
"Wow, that's great."
"Yesssir, it is. However, after the 9.23 seconds that the event takes, you are requested to leave the stadium as somebody else has your seat."
"Oh, right. Seems fair enough, I suppose."
"Anything else you want, sir? There's a long line waiting to get through."
"Right, uuummmmm, a friend of mine would like tickets to the Greco-Roman wrestling."
"A friend? Why doesn't he just ring and buy them then? I don't think it'll be a big seller, just a bunch of hairy men in leotards, all greased up and rolling around on the floor."
"Yes, sorry... I'd... My friend would like one ticket to every bout please"
"Sure, you... your friend want front-row seats?"
"Uummmmm... yes, he probably does."
"I have to warn you, often men slip off the stage and land in your lap, it can get messy."
"Just get me those tickets, please."
"Sure thing, sir. Coming right up. Anything else?"
"What about air pistol, synchronised swimming and the walking race?"
"Nobody wants to see those, sir, you can just walk in any time and I can guarantee that you will get a seat."
"OK, I think that's it, thank you. Actually, one more thing, why are you in Alabama and not in some underpaid part of the Third World?"
"I'm not in Alabama, sir, I'm in Szechwan Province in China but we have been taught to speak in this accent as it is the one that most people instinctively trust since it is friendly and homely."
"I thought that it was the Scottish accent that everybody likes – the debt companies always use them."
"I can't answer that, cowboy, it's above my pay grade. Now, if that's all, I gotta mosey on out of here. Do you want those tickets or what?"