Are the British really that much into alcohol? Is it really becoming a brand of their culture? If critics were to be believed, then the answer to both questions is a resounding yes.

Even one of Britain’s own seems to believe the same thing. Jamie Oliver, world famous celebrity chef, recently voiced out his concerns that the British in general are more into getting drunk than eating healthy. (Then again, is it just the British who have this tendency?) Jamie was interviewed by the Paris Match magazine and he expressed his opinion on the decline of British cuisine.

He is reported to have said that those living in South African slums eat better than the people in English towns and cities. More so, he said that in the past, the British people were known to create “fabulous” dishes but today, he laments that their traditions have gone to the dogs:

England is one of the richest countries in the world. The people I’m talking about have enormous televisions – a lot bigger than my own – the latest in mobile phones, cars and they go and get drunk in pubs at the weekend. Their poverty shows in the way they feed themselves.

While I might agree with the idea that more and more people are not eating right, I do not honestly think that boozing is the main culprit. Perhaps it is more of the prevailing attitude and what is thought of as “cool.” Perhaps it is more of having so many options available and not knowing which is which. What do you think?

The Beijing Olympics closed yesterday and the torch has been successfully (and grandly, if I may add) passed on to the host of the 2012 Olympics – London. I don’t know about you, but I am quite excited about this. The big even may be 4 years away but as early as now, the organizers of the next Olympics are already up and about, making preparations.

The Independent, however, has reported something that is a bit alarming. Apparently, there is still a lack of sponsors for the 2012 Olympics.

Which names do you remember from the Beijing Olympics? The Mansfield Mermaid Rebecca Adlington? The cyclists Chris Hoy or Rebecca Romero? Manulife? Atos Origin? The last two did not win gold, they spent it, but if their names have passed you by, their £50m sponsorship looks like money badly spent.
Several of the Olympics’ 12 main sponsors are questioning whether the cost has been worth it, and that is worrying London as it tries to persuade commercial companies to bridge its funding gap for the 2012 Games.

This is not good news but then again, there is still a long road ahead for the organizers. I think that many big companies were waiting for the Beijing Olympics to end before making any commitments. One good thing that can contribute to encouraging British companies to shell out some money for the London Olympics is the fact that Team GB did pretty well in the Beijing Olympics – they in fact surpassed most people’s expectations.

I guess we have to sit back, wait, and hope that the companies would have a change of heart.

The British team may not have won the most number of medals at the Beijing Olympics but as this year’s games come to an end, Britain and its culture is set to gain worldwide exposure. We all know that the next Olympic Games, to be held in 2012, are going to be in London. The country fought long and hard for it and even as the current Olympics are not even done, people involved are already making preparations for the next event.

Later on tonight, when the 2008 Beijing Olympics formally draws to an end, the organizers of the 2012 London Olympics will have the chance to put the spotlight on London and the next Olympics. The Scotsman reports:

Rock legend Jimmy Page and singer Leona Lewis will lead the way with a new version of the Led Zeppelin classic ‘Whole Lotta Love’, while footballer David Beckham will also make an appearance alongside Team GB.

The set will begin after London Mayor Boris Johnson receives the Olympic flag in an official handover ceremony, and starts with a red London double-decker bus driving around the Bird’s Nest stadium being pursued by Team GB cyclists Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and Shanaze Reade.

Bill Morris, London 2012’s director of ceremonies, said they were not aiming to try to match Beijing in terms of scale at the handover ceremony but that the approach would be “simple and creative”.

I think the fact that Jimmy Page and David Beckham are going to be part of the cast is enough for me to want to watch the ceremony later on.

Every country enters the Olympic Games with hopes of gold. Although there are certain countries who are particularly strong candidates for gold in many events, the hopes of coming home with one is always found within an Olympic athlete. The whole country remains expectant and rejoices with each win.

That is why it does not come as a surprise that British press was quite “giddy” over the successes that British athletes met on Wednesday. AFP reports:

Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton continued Britain’s domination of events at the Laoshan Velodrome, winning the men’s and women’s sprints respectively, with Hoy leading Jason Kenny in a British one-two, while Christine Ohuruogu capped the golden day with victory in the final of the women’s 400 metres.

“The performance of ‘Team GB’ in the Olympics is moving beyond the sublime and towards the ridiculous,” the Daily Telegraph gushed in its editorial.

“We are British, for heaven’s sake — how are we supposed to cope with such a relentless diet of good news, such an unprecedented glut of world-beating performances?

“The only difficulty, as the Games bring yet more medal chances, will be in squeezing so many names into the next (edition of the Queen’s) Honours List.”

The Independent, meanwhile, admitted that it had not expected anything like the numbers of medals won by British athletes, writing in its editorial: “On Monday, we proclaimed that it couldn’t get any better for Britain. But it did.”

“These Olympics have offered more than mere diversion from a dismal summer of grey skies and economic gloom.

It is always a pleasure to read and write about news like this one. Indeed, despite the controversies that have been marring the Beijing Olympics, the spirit of the games still exist and great athletes can still inspire their countrymen. Keep going Team GB!

The youth population in Britain is living with a different ideology, according to David Lammy, the skills minister. I read a report by the Guardian just a few minutes ago:

Young men are shunning work and turning to a life of crime as Britain develops a “get rich or die trying” culture, the country’s most senior black MP warns today. David Lammy, the skills minister, says young men are encouraged by a “bling culture” to pursue crime as a short cut to wealth in the face of a rapidly changing economy which no longer places a premium on manual jobs.

In an article in this week’s New Statesman, Lammy writes: “Young men from poor backgrounds feel they have least to lose. Why, one boy asked me, was I worried about his grades at school, when he might not live long enough to get a job? This is the world of ‘get rich or die trying’.”

Lammy, the MP for Tottenham, says young men run into trouble because the role of men is changing in society.

How true is this? I guess your perspective could depend on your own experience. I know many people who definitely do not fall in this category. There are a lot of young men who still think that going to school and working hard are the key ingredients to success. Then again, I have read and heard about other people who are living the lives described by Lammy – and I am sure that you have as well.

I agree with Lammy’s statement though – strong father figures are needed now more than ever.

The 2008 Beijing Olympics is well underway and many a hope for gold has been dashed. Yet things are looking rosy for Britain as Rebecca Adlington has fulfilled a nation’s dream for gold. Adlington is a swimmer who competed in the 400 meter freestyle race. To add icing to the cake, Joanne Jackson got the bronze medal.

Reuters reports:

Adlington conducted what Adrian Moorhouse, who won Britain’s last Olympic swimming title in 1988, called a “smash-and-grab” to snatch the 400 meters freestyle gold which had looked destined for American Katie Hoff.

Adlington’s boldness under pressure on the big occasion made her the first British Olympic swimming champion in 20 years and first women’s gold medalist in nearly half a century when Anita Lonsbrough won the 200 breaststroke at the Rome Games in 1988.

Moorhouse, now working as a television commentator, said: “I’m really proud of her (Adlington). I’m proud of both of them, to be able to watch an Olympic gold medal for Great Britain.”

This is definitely something that every Briton has been looking forward to since the last Olympics. Even those who are not very much into sports are at least following what is going on in Beijing during these several days. I would even dare say that people who may not be normally patriotic or nationalistic are feeling quite proud of their fellow Britons right now. After all, a trip to the Olympics as an athlete is something to proud of already – more so when you get a gold!

It used to be that many people around the world placed nature high above in their list of priorities. Children used to be engaged in activities that would expose them to Mother Nature and that would teach them a healthy appreciation of outdoors. It was not really limited to a specific country, I guess. Today, however, it seems that children are being exposed to nature less and less.

The same thing is happening in the United Kingdom. In fact, this has come to the attention of some premier publications. The Guardian, for one, has an article about this:

Recent studies confirm that we run the very real risk of bringing up a generation of children who simply have no understanding of – or connection with – the natural world.

Yet another survey has discovered what we already knew – that Britain’s children prefer hamsters to hedgehogs, enjoy their Playstation more than playing conkers, and can’t tell their blue tits from their bluebells (or at least half of them can’t).

The Natural Trust has its own findings:

• Just 53 per cent could correctly identify an oak leaf – the national tree and a powerful symbol of England
• 29 per cent failed to spot a magpie, despite the numbers soaring three-fold over the past 30 years
• Only 47 per cent of children correctly identified a barn owl
• One in three failed to recognise a Red Admiral, Britain’s best-known butterfly
• Children in Northern Ireland – where half couldn’t recognise a magpie – were least able to identify common wildlife
• Children in East Anglia, meanwhile, proved to be most aware of their natural surroundings.

Here’s to making sure that your children do NOT become part of these statistics!

Photo courtesy of Rick Leche