A friend of mine is quite exercised by the fact that the original idea for a torch relay belonged to Adolf Hitler. He is tweeting about this and, as I watched it arrive in my home town this morning, I wondered if there was TOK mileage here.
It certainly seems to be a real life event and has been happening for weeks.
When you think about it, it’s odd. People are pouring onto the streets in their thousands and cheering, in our case, a balding, middle-aged bloke jogging past with a heavy cigarette lighter in his outstretched arm. I held one recently, these things are heavy and a much better piece of kit than they look at first glance.
There is a strange power at work. Until one appeared in the staff room at school (the bearer needed a pee after showing it to students), I had not entertained the idea of watching the relay in any form. This morning I dragged no2 son from bed and cycled into town. Olympic frenzy?
Certainly there is emotion at work. In the crowd I heard people ticking off colleagues or friends on the wrong end of the phone for lacking patriotism. Presumably being unwilling to turn out to watch the flame will lead swiftly to selling secrets and passing messages to the enemy. But why this patriotic fervour? Are we so excited to be hosting the Olympics that everything that comes into contact with the event causes us to stand and cheer or wave flags (£2.00) at a complete unknown as he jogs past?
The perception of the event is coloured by language and the arts and the torchbearer was preceded by several buses with pumping music and loud messages in excited tones telling us what a good time we were having. The music carried no hidden messages warning us to guard against hubris or minor key moments to enable us to reflect on the fact that once the games are gone we will be left with a Eurozone in carnage and a country locked in recession. No, this was fun all the way and people left their cares behind and smiled at their neighbours. Surely a good thing.
So Hitler lit a flame of nationalist zeal that ended in invasion of Europe and millions of dead. In 2012 I experienced a very English event (people were having their photos taken with Morris dancers…) and my frenzy was assuaged by buying two GBR kagoules in Blacks.
Run with this TOKKISTS and make of it what you will.