As David Cameron and Nick Clegg prepare to set out agreed plans for their coalition government, I thought I would focus on another shiny new double act, and one which will become more not less endearing to the British public as time goes on.
I refer to Wenlock and Mandeville, the London 2012 mascots unveiled yesterday, complete with commendable TV hype – Yes, I watched The One Show – a splendid back story written by children’s author Michael Morpurgo, and a lovely film of the story, all easily findable if you google the two names, chosen because of historic connections with Olympics and Paralympics.
Wenlock’s name comes from the Shropshire village of Much Wenlock, which helped inspire the founder of the modern Olympic movement, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, to create the Olympic Games. Mandeville’s name is inspired by Stoke Mandeville in Buckinghamshire, whose hospital Games were a forerunner of the modern Paralympic movement.
When I tweeted last night that I was loving Clare Balding’s enthusiasm for W and M on The One Show, some of you thought I was being ironic, or hiding my own negative view of the mascots. Au contraire, as the defeated Paris bid team might say. I totally share Clare’s enthusiasm.
In any event, she and I, and the occasional cynic taking them apart in the papers today, are not really the target. Kids are. And the kids who first saw them yesterday appeared to love them. They will also be able to help shape the story of what happens to Wenlock and Mandeville as they travel around the country between now and the Games.
Assuming the coalition is still intact by then, and Cameron still PM, I won’t pretend that it will be slightly galling to see him, Boris (if still mayor), Colin Moynihan and other assorted Tories presiding over the Games, given how hard TB’s government worked to get them for London, and GB’s to make sure they were delivered. (Seb Coe is uber-politics btw, despite having been William Hague’s chief of staff, and so not to be lumped in the Tory list.)
But even I, just a week or two after the election, can put all that to one side amid the frisson of excitement that two little characters fashioned from droplets of steel can inspire. I can even, despite the treachery of Owen Coyle in departing Burnley, forgive them for coming from Bolton. Just call me big-hearted Al.
*** Buy The Blair Years online and raise cash for Labour http://www.alastaircampbell.org/bookshop.php.