I’ve been full of foreboding ever since that greasy Tory twit Lord Coe managed to persuade the IOC to award the 2012 Olympics to a patch of waste ground in grim London in preference to an already built stadium in beautiful Paris.
The Brits just cannot handle this sort of thing. The French and Germans, yes. The Chinese, of course. Even a small and reputedly inefficient country like Greece can host the Olympics successful. But the Brits?
Let’s take the typical foul up over the rebuilding of Wembley stadium, one of the most famous football grounds in the world.
The original deadline for the £757m stadium, in north London, was autumn 2005 - it was extended first to the end of January and then to the end of March.
And guess what, it’s still nowhere near finished. The cup final (in May) has had to be moved because of concerns that the stadium would not be ready. The company building the stadium lost £106 million last year because of the project and is on the verge of bankruptcy. To cap it all, yesterday:
The Wembley stadium site was evacuated after a 50-tonne steel rafter slipped 3ft, creating an "enormous bang".
About 3,500 workers were cleared from the site of the £757m project, already behind schedule, just before 0900 GMT.
Why did the beam fall down? Because in the rush to finish the stadium, it had been crappily welded. Oh, wonderful.
Mind you, the Wembley fiasco is nothing on what the Olympics has in store for us. You think I’m kidding? The BBC has helpfully provided us with a list of recent, ahem, landmark projects in the UK:
• The Scottish Parliament at Holyrood cost more than 10 times its original £40m estimate and was completed three years late in 2004 for £431m.
• The national air traffic control centre at Swanwick, Hampshire, had been due to open in 1996 and cost £350m. It eventually opened in 2002, having cost £623m.
• The new British Library, opened in 1997 at a cost of £511m. It was three times over-budget - and construction work had overrun by five years.
• The privately-financed Channel Tunnel opened a year behind schedule in 1994, at a cost of £10bn - more than double the original budget.
And they didn’t even mention the Millennium Dome!
Why are the Brits so useless at these projects? Here’s my tuppence hap'nys worth.
• There is very little sense of national pride in Britain. The French (who should have been awarded the 2012 Olympics) could not stand the indignity of failure. The Chinese will not allow the games to be anything but a success in 2008. Yet the Brits will just shrug their shoulders as the extent of the calamity becomes apparent.
• The Brits will never admit something is going wrong. It’s no surprise to me that the authorities at Wembley are trying to make out that the partial roof collapse is a minor matter. In every one of the fiascos listed above I am sure you could find a government minister voicing his absolute certainty that that the project will be completed on time and under budget.
• Ever since Thatcher, the Brits have been wedded to dodgy public-private schemes that never, ever work. Even if they bring in the Australians (Wembley) or the French (Channel Tunnel) the end result is the same, a complete cock-up.
Anyway, whatever the reason, I am absolutely certain that, come about 2010, someone in the BBC will be trawling through the archives to compose an article on why the disastrous plans for the 2012 Olympics are only the latest in a series of such high-profile fiascos. And when you read that article please remember where you read it first.