OLYMPIC COSTS RISING IN LONDON. HARD TO IMAGINE,
LONDON - We’ve seen this dozens of times before, and no doubt Vancouverites can relate. The main headline in the latest Evening-Standard blared out the words “2012 bill goes through roof.”
Yes, it’s difficult to believe but the cost of the 2012 Summer Olympic stadium in London’s east end has jumped by 50 million pounds – about 90 million Canadian dollars, and is now set at something like 547 million pounds – nearly a billion dollars. The aquatics centre (warning to Toronto Pan Am bidders, who want to build a pool at the University of Toronto campus in Scarborough) has risen by $9 million Canadian dollars and is now set at $452 million Cdn.
I’m not sure whether this includes all related expenses such as infrastructure improvements and security, but the Evening-Standard reported the “anticipated final cost” of the Olympics will be $13.3 billion Cdn.
Vancouver has an official budget of $1.76 billion but that doesn’t include security, which could top $1 billion, or infrastructure improvements such as widening the Sea-to-Sky Highway and building a transit link to the airport. Nor does it include the cost of the athletes village in False Creek, which could end up costing Vancouver taxpayers $1 billion due to problems with the developers.
Not bad here today; cold and damp but no snow in the centre of the city. Not so lucky up north, where Birmingham and other areas are being hammered. Cities and towns are already about out of sand and salt - "grit" they call it here - and there’s tons of delightful panic in the tabloids.
Marcel Berlins, writing in The Guardian the other day, took issue with the news media for slavishly adopting as gospel some report that the .latest snow storm had cost Britain almost $2 billion dollars. Berlins, rightfully, wonders how anyone comes up with these statistics and why media always repeat the figures. Of course, he points out, a restaurant can't recapture its lost business. But if someone was going to buy a sofa or a computer on, say, Monday and it snowed all day, surely that won't cause them to reject the purchase for a future time.
Wandered into a local pub in Bayswater, where I paid just $75 Canadian for a small but decent room for the night (okay, there were hot water problems and a really bizarre mirror, but more on that later in Star Travel), and sat at the table for 10 minutes before I finally figured maybe I had to go to the barman to order my food. He had looked at me a couple times right in the eye and I thought, “either he’s really rude or I’m pretty clueless.”
So I sauntered over and got the “dumb tourist” look from him as he explained that in the pub you order your food and drink at the bar and pay up first. Fair enough.
Decent fish and chips for six pounds (about $10 Canadian these days given a favourable exchange rate) and a 3 pound pint of good-tasting but flat as a prairie pancake London ale.
I’m told I also was wrong to embarrass the barman by leaving him a tip. Apparently, the rule is to buy a couple of pints and then give the chap – or woman – a goodly amount of coin and say something like, “buy one for yourself. “
FRISK ME, ANYONE?
Weird, but there was no security check either at Westminster Abbey this week, one of the most historical and prized attractions in London, or at the National Gallery, where there are priceless paintings by Turner, Van Gogh, Monet and others.
There was security at the London Eye, the huge ferris wheel-like structure that’s become a London icon on the south side of the Thames. Would’ve been nice views on Wednesday but yesterday was a different story.
NEVER HAPPEN IN CANADA
Priceless headline in one of the tabs the other day - "MP Sued For Being Lazy."