It seems like only hours since they ended, but people have already written and published books about the Olympics, and I have already read one.
Nicholas Lezard’s The Nolympics (Penguin, £7.99) was originally planned as a counterblast, a fusillade of righteous rage against what we all expected to be an administrative and sporting catastrophe that would blight what remained of Britain’s international reputation forever. Instead, he was as swept up by it all as the rest of us.
Even so, his book is less about watching the Olympics than about being forced to watch the Olympics, and then write 1,500 words a day about it. We can marvel at the wit and fluency he has achieved, faced with this impossible deadline, but to a great extent the book is the deadline.
Over the fortnight, irritation becomes delight becomes exhaustion: much the same response to the Games as we all had, only more so. Amazingly he barely registers Mo Farah, and doesn’t mention Jessica Ennis at all, but the minor sports draw him in, and he becomes quite obsessed by what he calls the ‘horsey dancing’.
It all amounts to ‘a quantitative easing of good vibes: the injection of huge amounts of party atmosphere into the nation in order to improve a mood that might otherwise have turned ugly, what with the disappearance of half the summer and of all our money’.
The party’s over, of course, and the credit card bill should be with us any day now.
This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated 29 September 2012