A BOSTON writer is finding himself in great demand after publishing a book about the disasters to hit the staging of the London Olympics.
For Graeme Kent, of Pilley’s Lane, the timing of the recent furore over security firm G4S at the 2012 Games, couldn’t have come at a better time. But his recently-published book ‘London’s Olympic Follies’ is not a prophetic look at current preparations, but an account of the 1908 Olympics in the capital – and the strong rivalry between Britain and America.
“The book deals with some of the disasters which befell the first efforts to stage an Olympiad in this country.” said Graeme. 78, who has already enjoyed a feature article in The Sunday Times about his book and an interview on BBC national news.
“The events were staged, mostly in the pouring rain, over a period of almost six months,” explained Graeme. “At the opening ceremony, King Edward VI was offended when the American athletes refused to dip the flag as they passed him in the royal box. As a result, the king refused to have anything more to do with the Games.
“The American tug-of-war team withdrew from the competition when the British team, all policemen, insisted on wearing their heavy work boots in which to pull in the mud.
“In the 400m race, the British representative Wyndham Halswelle was barged off the track by an American. The race was ordered to be re-run.
“The Americans refused, so Halswelle, a Boer War veteran who was later to be killed by a sniper in World War l, ran the second final on his own to win the gold medal.
“In the final of the marathon, the Italian runner Dorando Pietri collapsed with exhaustion as he approached the finish line. He was helped to the finish by officials and then disqualified. To console him, Queen Alexander, King Edward’s wife, presented the Italian with a special gold cup.”
This is set to be a busy year for Graeme, who was headmaster at St Thomas’ Primary School for 18 years, and is now a full-time writer. Having already published three books this year, a mixture of fact and fiction, he is set to have a fourth in stores by the end of 2012.
“I’m 78 so I really need to go on writing to keep me off the street corners,” he said.
On the current fiasco surrounding G4S, Graeme added: “It’s sad isn’t it? I think they just bit off more than they could chew.”
Graeme is now preparing to watch the Olympics on television – while his wife Janet and daughter Sarah have tickets to see the hockey event.
The book, priced £8.99, is available from Amazon and local bookshops.