I doubt if there?s ever been a time in British sport when more platitudes have been exhausted on one event than last week?s hype by London to win the race to stage the 2012 Olympics.
At the last count, more than 96,000 words by Friday in the national newspapers in the space of five days!
Now it ill behoves a regional columnist to be supportive of London and I have no intention of beating their drum for them.
I covered the Birmingham Olympic bid for BBC Radio in 1986 and I recall the despair of the organisers at the lack of commitment shown by the movers and shakers in London, including the Government of the day.
In Lausanne, when Barcelona won the 1992 gig, and Birmingham trailed in ignominiously, the late Dennis Howell was joined by Bobby Charlton, Seb Coe and Ron Pickering. And, er, that?s it.
A few years later, Manchester?s Olympic bid was also characterised by lukewarm support from the capital.
So let?s not be sidetracked by the London-based media?s obsession with this latest attempt to bring the Games to this country for the first time since 1948.
The cheerleading from the Daily Telegraph in particular over the past two years has been ridiculous, as objectivity has gone straight out of the window and celebrities have fallen over themselves to trumpet London?s claims, without grasping the technicalities.
I will long treasure this seal of approval over the weekend from Sir Mick Jagger, a notorious pennypincher for whom the concept of philanthropy has been as alien as marital fidelity.
?My father, Joe, who?s now 93, worked as a judge in the 1948 Games, so there is a family tradition of backing the Olympics?. So that?s all right, then. Tell us how much money you?ve donated for the good of the impoverished in sport, Mick.
The Queen gave the IOC?s visiting inspectors a posh nosh on Friday night, and the misguided souls encouraged by this crumb from her bounteous table thought that was a significant straw in the wind.
Why, she even broke with tradition and waved them off from the balcony. Hold the front, back and several of the inside pages! Most of the IOC inspectors hail from republics, where such Ruritarian gestures from a monarch have absolutely no significance.
And yet the spin we get is that the Queen?s parting wave was highly relevant. We must, of course, gloss over the fact that she said a few weeks ago, in a rare moment of candour, that Paris had the best bid.
Perhaps the Queen ought to have a word with her daughter instead. Despite being an IOC member for a few years now, the Princess Royal is not known for schmoozing with delegates, preferring to keep her distance in a familiarly aloof manner.
If the London camp feel that Royal dinner was relevant, they?re deluding themselves. The King and Queen of Spain did the same in support of Madrid?s bid, while Paris will stage a dinner attended by President Chirac at the Elysee Palace and Vladimir Putin will push the claims of Moscow at a glittering bash in the Kremlin. England doesn?t have the monopoly in pomp and circumstance.
All the de-briefings we keep getting fed our way state that the inspectors were very impressed. Did we seriously expect anyone to say anything different? Any grit in the oyster has been studiously ignored.
Mayor Ken Livingstone?s spat with a London journalist, which has aroused allegations of racism, has infuriated Seb Coe?s team, but they have stayed resolutely on-message. It?s just brushed aside as a little local difficulty.
Seb Coe is an admirable individual and thank heavens they shipped him in soon enough after the dedicated bean counter Barbara Cassani had demonstrated she could run a low-cost airline effectively, but not an Olympic bid.
When the London camp talk about their professionalism and vision, they shouldn?t be allowed to gloss over that disastrous Cassani appointment. Coe is an example of how sport can mould someone into a rounded, intelligent individual ? and I shan?t forget his dedicated support for Birmingham in 1986 ? but he is spinning this London bid with all the craft and zeal of an Alastair Campbell.
It cost #20 million on the preparations for last week?s London bid, so it ought to have been professional and rigorous. What will a successful bid do for sport in the rest of the country, though? My understanding is that around #140 million in Lottery money will be taken from sport outlays, including #50 million for London sport. East London will be regenerated, but what about the rest of London and the country? All for just four weeks in the summer of 2012, in one area of London.
They trumpeted last week that a new transport system from King?s Cross would mean the journey to the new Olympic Stadium would take just seven minutes. So what? The athletes would therefore be cossetted, and the paying customers ? but that won?t help ease chronic traffic congestion in the rest of London.
The average driving speed in London is less than it was 50 years ago, and this bonanza would do nothing to reduce that colossal strain. Tube journeys will remain a nightmare.
Nor should we forget this is election year. That?s why the Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell has come over all evangelical when at no other stage of her career has she appeared interested in sport. I?d take missionary zeal from someone like the outspoken and independent-minded MP Kate Hoey, but not one of the most devoted of Blair?s Babes.
Four years ago, Britain backed out of staging the World Athletics Championships after promising to build a stadium for that purpose in London. The Government shamefully offered to move the championships to Sheffield and that was rightly dismissed out of hand.
Tessa Jowell says of that fiasco, ?It?s a different world.? Or, in the hallowed words of the modern politician, let?s move on.
Tony Blair will be in Singapore early in July, pressing the flesh just before the vote ? even though he has to chair the vital G-8 summit in Gleneagles at the same time. Which event is more important to a British Prime Minister? Don?t answer that. Just remember that Prime Ministers have aligned themselves to sport ever since Harold Wilson?s time when he hijacked the England football team?s celebrations on the balcony of their London hotel after they?d won the World Cup in 1966.
Just because the great and the good of British sport are now buoyant after their technical bid passed without a hitch doesn?t mean they?ve won the debate about the merits of staging an Olympics in London. There?s a huge disparity between the noble aspirations of the sporting establishment and those unheralded souls throughout Britain who strive to persuade us to participate in sport in the face of inadequate facilities and shrinking budgets.
That?s why the London Olympic bid is an irrelevance to the welfare of our sporting nation. Spread the millions on a wider canvas.
It?s not true to say that the brains of most footballers are contained in their boots. But then there?s Wayne Rooney.
He was daft a couple of years ago to brandish his undying love for Everton, given his precocious talent meant that he was bound to move on to a better team. And whoever was responsible for the grammar of his message ought to have told the lad how to spell ?always?. Master Rooney probably thinks an apostrophe is something his shopaholic fiance picks up as a freebie at one those smart designer stores she loves so much.
Mind you, footballers don?t have the monopoly on verbal howlers. The other day England?s new cricket sensation Kevin Pietersen told us he was ?in a Catch-21 situation?. He?s obviously heard about the cricket term ?one short?.
But Rooney has an interesting take on reality. He said recently-that his behaviour on the field had improved greatly this season. This then can?t be the same Wayne Rooney who was hauled off the field in October, playing for England, to avoid being sent off and then churlishly ignored the proffered hand of the man substituting him, Alan Smith.
Nor can it be the same Rooney whose prolonged foul-mouthed tirade against referee Graham Poll in the match against Arsenal constituted an open invitation to give him an early burst with the shower gel. That night the brat gave every impression that his first words uttered on this earth all began with the letter ?f?.
And why did he allow himself to be derailed before Saturday?s match against Everton by a couple representing the match ball sponsors who were determined to tell him what they thought of his move to Manchester United? They can brag for years about the time they stood on the touchline and took the chance to tell Wayne Rooney what most Evertonians thought of him.
But Rooney couldn?t treat them with the necessary disdain and he reacted as he so often does during a match. If he hadn?t been dragged away, it could have got nasty and that?s before a ball was kicked in anger.
But his behaviour is so much better this season.
And Sir Alex Ferguson agrees. All?s well with the world then.
Aston Villa?s comparative financial prestige must be news to all those fans who wonder why the club is no longer a serious player in the transfer market.
The Deloitte Football Money League reveals that Villa is one of the top 20 richest clubs in the world. Villa?s annual income of just short of #56 million for the 2003-04 season places it at number 20, one of ten British clubs in the list.
Granted that Villa?s income is only one third of the richest club, Manchester United, and that the two Milan clubs, Chelsea, Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid are also bringing in more than double the Villa amount. But it is nevertheless an impressive effort.
It?s a tribute to the effectiveness of the commercial department and also ? deep breath time, stand by for letters ? the expertise of the chairman Doug Ellis.
Compared to Villa, Newcastle average 15,000 more spectators per game, Manchester City 10,000 and Liverpool 7,000. Aston Villa should therefore be commended in getting back into the top 20 for the first time in five years.
But that leads to questions.
Of course Ellis has been let down by some duff signings during those five years. Did someone mention Bosko Balaban and a little matter of ten million quid? The chairman has had to steer clear of the Peter Ridsdale/Leeds United scenario but there?s still a feeling of inertia about the club.
David O?Leary can?t keep harping on about his small squad and the need for investment in players because he?s now inside the tent, having agreed a new, improved contract. Ellis would be perfectly entitled to tell his manager he knew the form when signing on so don?t cavil about it now.
So what is the future of Villa under O?Leary? Only a fool would expect the club to compete again on a level footing with United, Chelsea and Arsenal, unless a billionaire came forward, but there should be more evidence that Villa has a coherent plan for the future.
The much-vaunted youth policy beloved of the chairman may keep throwing up first-team players but the manager doesn?t exactly talk up their potential when we?re around.
O?Leary appears unconvinced about several of his first-team squad.
But Villa supporters need reassuring that there?s more to O?Leary?s vision than Eric Djemba-Djemba and James Beattie and repeated assertions that he?s in charge of ?an honest bunch of lads? (Copyright 2003).
That Deloitte?s list has provided extra ammunition for disenchanted Villa fans.