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Thursday, 24 July 2014

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Not quite in the Olympic spirit of peace, unity and international harmony

It was one of those rare, wonderfully heartwarming events guaranteed to make an English breast swell with unashamed pride.

And yes, my breast is swollen. English eccentricity at its finest has been marvellously showcased to the world. And by ‘eck, there’s nowt to beat it.

The Olympics cometh and excitement in London is bursting the old capital at its seams – pretty risky, given the weaponry on its roofs.

So, when notice of a public meeting was given in Bow, East London, it was hardly surprising that a little titter of gobsmacked amusement ran around streets where normally talk is of whether the local economy can stand another kebab shop.

We really shouldn’t snigger. The good folks of the East End have serious concerns about plans to position surface-to-air missiles on their residential flats during the Olympic Games. And strictly speaking, that’s not funny.

I mean you can see their point, eh? This is a neighbourly awkwardness way beyond argument over a towering leylandi. It is infinitely more irritating than next door’s cat using your lawn as a toilet. Worse even than a neighbour’s infuriating habit of putting his bins out two days before collection.

This is the Gaza strip in your rooftop garden. Nip up there to adjust the satellite dish and a DIY novice could unwittingly launch an invasion of Oxford – which might give a quirky new novelty plot to Midsomer Murders. But since it’s my plot, I claim my cut now.

The Ministry of Defence, at time of writing, was showing itself to be a bit miffed with the uncooperative residents of Bow. No MoD rep was agreeing to attend any public meeting, signalling something of a fait accompli – based on the interests of national security no doubt.

Not that there’s anything terribly secure about any part of this bizarre plan. By the time the launchers are fixed into place, every terrorist – real or aspiring – will know precisely where the missiles are and avoid them. Suicide bombers with ambitions of martyrdom and all those heavenly virgins will have a field day.

Now, I’m no expert in matters warfare – neither would I wish to be. But if the MoD fear is – as appears to be the case – that a deadly enemy with a death wish should fly over London with menacing intent, thus threatening the lives of the inhabitants of Tower Hamlets, how do missiles help?

Triggered into immediate lethal launch, they strike the aircraft, blow it to smithereens and bring it raining down in explosive fireballs on... Tower Hamlets.

Advantage? Err... call it friendly fire. Well, it’s a plan.

It has to be said, only the English could dream up such a scatterbrained scenario of cack-handed aggression and/or defence.

Only our famed eccentricity could create a war zone in leafy residential streets for the duration of the world’s biggest, most significantly symbolic event of peace, unity and international harmony.

And when the games are over, what happens then? Who dismantles these deadly weapons? Which poor sap goes up on the roof to bring the missiles down on his ladder? The local Sky TV engineer? A window cleaner with bonus as danger money?

One slip of the screwdriver and he wipes out Norfolk. Trip over a cable and there goes Whitehall, Westminster and the waiting West End audience of The Lion King.

And they call this defence? No wonder we rely so heavily on the Americans.

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