Belfast Telegraph

From Olympics to new Libya, be careful what you wish for ...

By Nuala McKeever

Have you seen those TV ads for the energy company EDF? I've only caught them with the sound down (does anyone actually LISTEN to ads these days?) so it took me a while to work out what they were promoting.

The ad shows a series of ‘ordinary’ people (you know, they're ordinary cos they're not all slim and attractive) jumping up and down for joy, waving a bit of paper in their hands and celebrating with friends and neighbours.

At first glance I presumed it was an ad for the Lotto, ‘cos the people look like they've won the Lotto.

But then I noticed one character running out of his house to cheer with neighbours, draped in the Union Jack. So I wondered, idly, if it was an Orange Order fantasy about finally, finally being allowed to walk down the Garvaghy Road.

But then I noticed one older woman character, overweight and wearing loose clothing, suddenly lying down in the street, seemingly overcome with joy and I thought perhaps it was an ad run by New Labour, envisaging the reaction to news that the whole Cabinet had resigned after being caught turning a blind eye to corruption, but then I remembered no, that doesn't seem to be a resigning offence these days.

So I was stumped. Right up until the last moments of the ad when it became clear that it's actually an energy company ad envisaging the response from its customers who've taken part in, and won, a competition for tickets to the London Olympics. Wow! All that excitement over tickets to the Games.

That'll explain the Union Jack — ‘’cos obviously if you go to the Games, you have to be supporting the home team, even if you're from another country ...

I admire EDF's optimism. I somehow doubt the reality would be quite equal to the fantasy however. I've seen lots of pictures of women lying down in the street, unable to help themselves cos they're plastered, but not because their young male neighbour's just secured two seats at the Women's Table Tennis opening match between China and Azerbaijan. But what do I know? Maybe I just don't have my finger on the pulse of the zeitgeist when it comes to sport and the public.

Similar, though rather more bloody, scenes of jubilation greeted the capture and murder of Col Gaddafi (below) in Libya. I didn't get that either but, then again, I didn't suffer years of repression at the hands of his regime.

Maybe I've lived too long, but everytime I see mass excitement I wonder how long before it all turns sour. It's like a Katie Price relationship. You start doubting the longevity once you've seen the ‘forever’ only last a few months, for the fourth or fifth time.

If we even knew for sure that those going in to Libya to help it on its path to democracy were actually honest brokers and not in the thrall of huge profit-driven construction companies, arms dealers and other assorted self-interested set-ups, then we might be a little more optimistic about the country's chances of achieving real people power.

I do wish them all well — from the Olympic ticket winners in the UK to the ordinary Libyans, hoping for ringside seats at the building of a wonderful new country. It's certain the games will begin, but it'll be a while before we know the winners.

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