Thursday, September 13, 2012

What happened to Wenlock and Mandeville?

So there we are. Britain’s glorious summer of sport has finally drawn to a close.

If there was ever any doubt, it only took England’s deeply uninspiring draw against Ukraine on Tuesday, followed by a constant stream of drizzle on Wednesday, to remind us that we are now very much back to normal.

But as the victory parades march off into the sunset, and the medals are tucked away in their cabinets, it’s worth taking a moment or two to reflect on the fates of a pair of unsung heroes of the Olympic/Paralympic jamboree: Wenlock and Mandeville.

Remember them? The oddly-shaped one-eyed mascots? Of course you do.

Wenlock was named after Much Wenlock, the village in Shropshire where an early version of the Olympics, the Olympian Games, was founded in 1850.

Mandeville was named after Stoke Mandeville, the village in Buckinghamshire where yours truly had a girlfriend in the late 1970s.

Wenlock had a three-pronged head representing the three different Olympic medals. And a London taxi light, representing a London taxi.

Mandeville had a three-pronged helmet (oo-er missus) representing the three Paralympic colours. And a London taxi light, representing... yup, a London taxi.

The Cyclopean eyes weren’t really eyes but cameras, which according to the official description let them “record everything”.

What, everything? Really everything?

The entire population of the UK having its breakfast? A star exploding in galaxy SXDF-NB1006-2? A transparent prawn ploughing the depths of sub-glacial Antarctic lake Vostock?

With all that recording going on, anthropomorphic surveillance cameras Wenville and Mandelock would have needed some pretty hefty disk space tucked away inside.

But perhaps we’ll never know. Because as soon as the Olympics started, they went underground. Did you see Wanlock and Mendeville at the opening ceremony? No. Did you see them at the victory parades? No.

Apart from a brief appearance when they tried to photobomb Usain Bolt, the two mascots were conspicuous by their absence from almost every Olympic event.

All right, you can still pick up chocolate simulacra from the bargain bins in Tescos. And at Dixon Towers we have a couple of Wombat and Murgatroyd multi-coloured souvenir ball-point pens. You know, the sort of pen with a big fat barrel and sliders up the sides for all the different colours.

The sort of pen that won’t write properly, gets left in a drawer and dries out just when you really need it.

Which just about sums up our two Olympic mascots. We revelled in a summer of sport; they missed out.

What the future holds for them, only time will tell (© Clich├ęs R Us).

There’s apparently a campaign starting to get them nominated as joint BBC Sports Personalities of the Year.

The only problem there is that judged on personality, they wouldn’t even beat Andy Murray.

So maybe it’s best if they just fade quietly away into the background.

Farewell, Whiplash and Mandible, it was lovely knowing you.

Now what did you say your names were?

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