A nation of winners when it comes to whingeing

Should we get the Olympics, let's all look forward to what we enjoy most: complaining

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This morning, taking Conrad for his morning walk, I came across a very thin but hygienic-looking girl with, apparently, a black box tied to her head with a pink ribbon. She was standing by a tree at the entrance to Battersea Park, just under the notice which says BATTERSEA PARK, and holding a map upside down.

This morning, taking Conrad for his morning walk, I came across a very thin but hygienic-looking girl with, apparently, a black box tied to her head with a pink ribbon. She was standing by a tree at the entrance to Battersea Park, just under the notice which says BATTERSEA PARK, and holding a map upside down.

"Izziz Battersea Park?" she said. Conrad was looking up at her, deciding whether to wee against the tree or her. "Yes," I said. She looked at the map some more. "I'm looking for Chelsea Park," she said. "I don't know what Chelsea Park is," I said. "It's the Chelsea Park entrance to Battersea Park," she said.

"Oh, you mean the Chelsea Bridge entrance," I said. "It's up that end of the Queenstown Road. Just next to the bridge. Chelsea Bridge." "No," she wailed. "It's Chelsea Park entrance. I can't find it. I'm late, I'm late, it's London Fashion Week." "Ah," I said. Then Conrad bit her on the rear.

The whole of Battersea, and, in its different way, the whole of the London fashion world has been thrown into disarray by the enforced removal of the event from the Kings Road in Chelsea to Battersea Park. The rich locals around the Duke of York's barracks, infuriated by the noise, the hoo-ha, and the gormless girls standing around, got together and put a stop to their annual trial. (Personally, I always think the Chelsea Flower Show is worse, but you can't really blame them for starting with this one.)

The result is that Battersea Park, one of the nicest parks in London with its circuit along the river, its lawns, lakes, fake ruins, children's zoo and mad Japanese pagoda, has given the event a home. On this side of the river, we're not so used to hideous neon sculptures, wacky fashion students, paparazzi and Mr Julien Macdonald's unfortunate addiction to gold lamé, slashed to the navel from both directions.

In fact, one of the reasons I initially moved here was that you could go to the newsagents with a raincoat over your pyjamas. This week, of course, if you did go out dressed like that, it would just be assumed that you were a fashion student.

But if the locals are getting used to the advent of London Fashion Week in their midst, the fashionistas, apparently, can hardly believe that they are being asked to go South of the River. Bewildered models stand helplessly gazing on traffic islands: wardrobe assistants circle the roundabouts of the Queenstown Road over and over again, fumbling with their A-Z.

Of course, it is a long-term belief of many Londoners that south London is a very long way away. I get used to travelling miles to the back of beyond, or Hampstead as it is usually called, to be asked why I live so remotely. Still, it seems odd for the fashion journalists to complain so much about the removal of this event when, even in stilettos, you can easily walk there from Sloane Square.

The general mood of chaos and whining, whether this relatively minor event takes place on the Kings Road or in Battersea, has reached such a pitch you honestly wonder what on earth will happen should we ever be awarded the Olympics. Nothing is actually being built for such events. On the other hand, the Olympics will mean years of major construction work, expense, traffic jams, and then, in the end, two weeks of utter madness.

It won't just mean a few fashion students standing in the middle of the Queenstown Road, or, as in the case of the flower show, hundreds of middle-class ladies in tweed contriving to get lost between Sloane Square and the Chelsea hospital. No, we can be absolutely sure that it will mean tens or hundreds of thousands of tourists, standing stock-still in the middle of pavements, staring upwards, a hundred people at a time, gazing at boards on the Underground, attempting to work out whether they want to go eastwards or westwards on the Piccadilly Line. It will be perfect hell.

Should the Olympics come here in 2012, most Londoners, I suspect, will enjoy the occasion and enjoy whingeing about them to a more or less equal degree. On the whole, we like an occasion, particularly if it means that the Government is then going to be prepared to pay to improve derelict parts of the city and some terrible transport links. If it does happen, the summer of 2012 will be an unforgettable one, following the Queen's Diamond Jubilee with an incredible number of absurd sporting events.

I guess it isn't going to happen: we rather forget the depths of animosity which many foreigners feel towards the English, and the obvious truth that London is the safest, most densely cultured, most liberal, most happily cosmopolitan, most inventive and exciting world city at present will probably count for very little in the end, next to the belief of most of the International Olympic Committee that English people are toffee-nosed imperialists with bad teeth and impenetrably superior jokes.

Should it happen, however, let's all look forward to what we all enjoy most: a nice long stretch of complaining about it. Just like the London Fashion Week, but on a much bigger scale, we can all agree that it's perfectly ghastly. But secretly, we'd be rather glad if it came our way.

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