Dom Joly: In France, there is just a hint of bitterness

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The Independent Online

I'm in the Ardèche on a family holiday, so my Olympic viewing has been via French television. I am not allowed access to British TV on my laptop although I can get the radio. This can be extremely frustrating as the French's priorities are obviously not the same as mine. I can be all set to watch some crucial long jump when coverage is abruptly cancelled and we swing over to a very long and dull interview with a French judo medallist. I can't blame them, of course: I'm sure that British TV is hardly fascinated by the exploits of French athletes unless they are being thrashed by a Brit. Certainly, BBC radio has lost all sense of its legendary impartiality as foreign listeners are battered with stories of continual British victory over the rest of the world.

On French TV there is a just a hint of bitterness in the commentary at the fact that the games are not in Paris. The French have done rather well in the London games and have improved considerably on their performance in Beijing but, as I fight my way through the crowded markets of nearby villages, you sense that Olympic fever has spared the vast majority of our Gallic neighbours who seem more interested in purchasing daily amounts of complex cheese.

The gardener was quite baffled by Danny Boyle's opening ceremony. "You started with a beautiful green scenario and then proceeded to destroy the whole thing with chimneys, and this was seen as a good thing? Also, what were the beds all about? And why did you have that Paul McCartney play at the end? He is my least favourite Beatle and can surely do something about his awful hair dye with all the money he has – or did the wooden-leg woman take it all?" OK, I made the last bit about Macca up but the rest is genuine.

I can see the effects of the Olympics on my own kids: they spend the mornings having swimming races that include "individual medley" and impressive racing dives. But I do wonder about the point of backstroke and butterfly. Surely front crawl and the occasional breaststroke are all we need? On the track we don't have a one-legged race, running backwards … actually, that's not a bad idea. I, for one, would pay to watch the backwards 100 metres. When I was in the TV jungle with Britt Ekland, she told me that both her and Mick Jagger regularly ran backwards. Maybe I have just come up with Channel Five's new sporting programming idea? You can have it... for free.

In Les Vans last week, anybody under 15 wore a Jamaican T-shirt and tracksuit. Already, Usain Bolt seems to have overtaken Bob Marley as the poster boy for the island … it's quite a transition.

The other surprise is the fascination with Boris Johnson. I think the footage of the London mayor suspended on a zip wire waving Union Jacks has made quite an impact here. Several people I spoke to asked me whether Boris could be the next prime minister? I replied that it was very likely, as he seems to be bulletproof. There is nobody else I can think of that could ever recover from those images, let alone come out quite well from it. These have been the Boris/Bolt Olympics.