Viv Groskop: Don't honour Olympians just for doing their job. Except one

Notebook

Share

A report by a group of MPs has concluded that too many people are receiving honours just for doing their jobs. It's weird. In the olden days, that was what money was for. But I guess there isn't as much of that around as there used to be. So now we have to reward people in other ways.

The Public Administration Selection Committee described the honours list selection process as "opaque" and "mysterious". It hinted that too many celebrities and civil servants are getting honours just for being celebrities and civil servants. "We believe that no one should be honoured for simply 'doing the day job', no matter what that job is," said Bernard Jenkin, the committee chairman and Conservative MP.

He could have gone so much further. If anything, anyone rich and famous offered an "honour" should be forced to confer it on someone who is not rich and famous. Sadly, that's not offered as an option. No, this year all anyone cares about is the Olympians. Are they all going to get honoured? If not, why not? They're heroes! Someone honour them!

There are already signs that there is going to be some sort of national outcry if all 43 gold medallists aren't given special titles. (At the moment, there's a limit on numbers.) The offices of David Cameron and Boris Johnson have leaked indications that it is both politicians' "personal wish" that each gold medallist be recognised. It's obviously seen as a vote-winner.

Under the current system, the committee responsible for awarding honours to sports people is also only allowed to make one medal winner a knight or a dame. But up to four civil servants can receive a knighthood. This is amusing. You have to choose one person out of 43 Olympic gold medallists to be the best. But you are allowed to have four heroes of the Treasury. The whole thing is like something out of Blackadder: comical, antiquated elitism.

The committee is right to point out that honours are at their best when they recognise the extraordinary achievements of people we've never heard of. Actually, it didn't point that out in so many words. But it should have done. When Olympians win, they are just doing their job and they get their reward and in two types of gold (medals and money).

Surely, with the Olympics, we were finally celebrating achievement and excellence rather than celebrity and fame for its own sake? The best way to honour that legacy would be to ensure that plaudits go to people who have achieved incredible things but who would otherwise not be rewarded for them. It's not a difficult list to draw up: midwives, nurses, transport workers, teachers, community activists, anyone in the Olympics Opening Ceremony who did not feature in the footage and must be very annoyed that there is no proof they were actually there...

Meanwhile, the only Olympian who ticks the "above and beyond the call of duty" box is Mo Farah. Winning gold medals is his day job and he won't want to get honoured just for that. But what he does deserve an award for is his services to triumphalist interpretative dance. No one made him do the second letter of YMCA. That was extra. He gave us that for free. Make this man Overlord of the Universe. Or at least give him an MBE. Mobot of the British Empire.

A Jumpin' Jack newsflash

Finally, a chance at some Satisfaction! Start Me Up! Paint all your red doors black in reverse psychological jubiliation! The Stones are in Paris recording a new album!

Earlier this year, Keith Richards told Rolling Stone (the magazine, not one of his friends) that they've been practising old stuff on and off for a while: "It was like playing in the garage, a maintenance check." How exciting. Or, as it says on their Facebook page, which I like to think Keith personally updates: "Exciting news coming soon".

But how soon? The difficulty with all these rumblings is the small matter of a moment in time which has already passed. But then I suppose that with a combined age of 274 you are not going to remember what day it is. Let alone the actual date of your much-anticipated 50th anniversary. Which was well over a month ago. "Jumpin' Jack Flash, where did I put that calendar, man?"

twitter.com/@vivgroskop

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Software Developer (Java /C# Programmer)- London

£30000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A global investment management fi...

Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CCNP, Cisco, London)

£65000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CC...

Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, Cisco, CISSP)

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, C...

Senior Network Engineer-(Design, Implementation, CCIE)

£60000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(Design, ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letters: The West flounders in the Middle East morass

Independent Voices
David Tennant as Hamlet  

To vote no or not to vote no, that is the question... Although do celebrities really have the answer?

David Lister
All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition