A Word In Your Ear with Jon Rhodes - May 5, 2011

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TO be fair it was a shock, I mean I’ve never expressed any real interest in rowing.

Of course, I’ve watched the boat race, know who Sir Steve Redgrave is and even spent my formative years getting leathered on Labatt’s in a pub called the Boat House.

But as for getting involved in the sport itself, I think I’ll pass. You see, I know my place on the whole social spectrum and regattas, well they’re not really me. I don’t even own a wicker picnic basket.

So with this in mind you may be wondering why I did what I did.

In about a month Seb Coe, that affable chap, will prise 600 quid from my bank account. In return he will hand me four tickets for a two-hour session at a rowing event somewhere in the south in 2012.

That’s right, I only went and entered the Olympic Games ticket ballot. I am blaming technology, well I have to as the Put Upon Wife is wondering why I now feel the cash-strapped need to cancel next year’s holiday, oh and the new fridge.

True to form I decided to apply for tickets precisely two hours before the month-long application process was due to end.

Due to the fact the whole of the UK was trying to do the same, the website went on an Eric The Eel-style go slow. I spent one hour 45 minutes just to get on to the section which allowed you to select the tickets you wanted.

The clock was ticking as I hurriedly selected which days I fancied for the athletics and cycling. Then it happened – something in the back of my mind shouted ROWING.

‘Aha, not a bad back up plan if I don’t get the running tickets’, or so I thought.

It was now just 60 seconds from the application cut-off point and my heart was racing. I clicked the button which I thought said a maximum ticket spend of £50 and hit “submit application”.

For the next hour the computer screen churned over the word “processing” as I waited expectantly for Lord Seb to pop up and say ‘congratulations Jon, you’ve won four tickets for the 400m final and a front row seat for a British gold rush at the cycling’.

Sadly no Seb, just a screenshot which made my heart sink and my bank manager suddenly wonder why one of his more platinum overdrafted customers had sparked a new crisis in the fiscal sector.

Apparently, and I’m still not sure how this has happened, I’ve pledged to buy four rowing tickets at £150... each!

Hell’s teeth, for that price I don’t want a place in the stands I want to be in the boat.

All attempts to rectify my gross error – all right my four gross and 16 error – have failed as you cannot call, email or even write to London 2012’s Ticketing Department. So much for a cooling-off period. Now all I can do is wait.

From a position of desperately wanting to go to the Olympics I’m praying my application, well for events with oars anyhow, fails.

If I win this Olympic race it will bankrupt me – and how the hell will I be able to afford the necessary picnic basket and tartan travel rug accessory then?

Apparently it’s the taking part which counts, so Baron Pierre de Coubertin’s Olympic ideal goes.

I am suddenly beginning to have my doubts.