One hundred days

As an experiment, for the last 100 days I’ve written every day. No matter how full the hours, I’ve found some time. I’ve been trying to discover if the “write every day” mantra works: whether the writing flows more easily, whether it instills a new discipline.

In those 100 days I’ve written a fraction over 70,000 words — 700 words a day. Each day’s output is recorded in a spreadsheet, and I’ve been pretty good at remembering to update it. I’m a little disappointed in that average — when I’m on a roll/deathmarch, and with no other distractions but toilet and food breaks, I can write 3000 words in a day. There are more demands on my time now, though. As a result the daily word counts range from 250 to 2000 — quite a spread.

Does this mean a new book is about to pop out? If only. And here we come to what I’ve experienced as the negative side to committing to write something every day: the imperative to write, write something, has sometimes meant I haven’t paid proper attention to what I’ve been writing. I haven’t been outlining nearly as much as I usually do, because it eats into writing time. That’s not to say the words are wasted: they’re perfectly serviceable, for the most part. I suppose in a sense I’m learning to write without the crutch of an outline — to trust that a plot and ending will emerge from the mist.

The trouble is I’m not there yet. I reach about 10,000 words into a story and a buzzer goes off in my head: “yes, but how does it end?” And I don’t know, and I get nervous, and decide it’s not going anywhere, at least not yet, and one of the other ideas in my head coughs politely and offers an opening line, and I jump at it because opening lines are easy and full of promise and this time, this time, I’ll figure out an ending.

The good news is, one of the stories I’ve started does now seem to have an approximation to an ending, or at least a hint of an approximation. If I squint it also has a framework that gets me from here to there, almost, just about, which might well stop my brain from bleating long enough to fool it into writing a bit more. The details will evolve — they always do — but I have a working title and I’ve just breached the 20,000 word wall and I’d quite like to finish this one, please.

It won’t be as part of NaNoWriMo. I’m not writing enough words each day and too many Things are happening this month. But I’ll try to keep up the pace. Christmas is a more realistic deadline, albeit one receding with every word I type into, say, my blog. (It’s all your fault, basically.) Finishing by Christmas would allow me a restful holiday season while slave-driving my beta readers to ignore their families and get me some feedback ASAP, and January would be a mess of revisions and panicking so I could get the book out before I inevitably become obsessed with the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

I seem to have just planned the release of a story I’ve only written 20,000 words of.

Oh dear.

Maybe I should just shelve it and start another.

The poor, powerless IOC

“But one should not forget that we are staging the games in a sovereign state and the IOC cannot be expected to have an influence on the sovereign affairs of a country,” says departing IOC president Jacques Rogge.

No indeed. The IOC’s hands are tied. They can do nothing, nothing, to stop countries — to which they, at their sole discretion, award the biggest sporting event on the planet — from battering their citizens. Sovereign governments are entirely beyond the IOC’s influence.

Olympic Symbol etc. (Protection) Act 1995

1(1) There shall be a right, to be known as the Olympics association right. …

2(1) The Olympics association right shall confer exclusive rights in relation to the use of the Olympic symbol, the Olympic motto and the protected words. …

The poor, powerless IOC.

London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006

11 Olympic Route Network …

14 Traffic regulation orders …

19 Advertising regulations …

22 Enforcement: power of entry

(1) A constable or enforcement officer may—

(a) enter land or premises on which they reasonably believe a contravention of regulations under section 19 is occurring (whether by reason of advertising on that land or premises or by the use of that land or premises to cause an advertisement to appear elsewhere);

(b) remove, destroy, conceal or erase any infringing article;

(c) when entering land under paragraph (a), be accompanied by one or more persons for the purpose of taking action under paragraph (b);

(d) use, or authorise the use of, reasonable force for the purpose of taking action under this subsection. …

25 Street trading, &c. …

28 Enforcement: power of entry

(1) A constable or enforcement officer may—

(a) enter land or premises on which they reasonably believe a contravention of regulations under section 25 is occurring;

(b) remove any infringing article;

(c) when entering land under paragraph (a), be accompanied by one or more persons for the purpose of taking action under paragraph (b);

(d) use, or authorise the use of, reasonable force for the purpose of taking action under this subsection. …

34 Greater London Authority: powers

(1) The Greater London Authority may do anything—

(a) for the purpose of complying with an obligation of the Mayor of London under the Host City Contract (whether before, during or after the London Olympics),

(b) for a purpose connected with preparing for or managing the London Olympics, or

(c) for a purpose connected with anything done in accordance with paragraph (a) or (b).

The poor, powerless IOC.

The London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (Advertising and Trading) (England) Regulations 2011 (and similar regulations for Wales and Scotland)

Control of advertising activity

6.—(1) A person must not engage in advertising activity in an event zone during the relevant event period or periods. …

The poor, powerless IOC.

The Air Navigation (Restriction of Flying) (London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, London Restricted Zone EGR112) Regulations 2012 (and 14 similar regulations for other Olympic venues)

The Wireless Telegraphy (Control of Interference from Apparatus) (The London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games) Regulations 2012

The A19 Trunk Road and the A66 Trunk Road (Olympic Torch Relay) (Temporary Prohibition of Traffic) Order 2012

Etc, etc. There are 51 acts and statutory instruments on legislation.gov.uk with “Olympic” in the title.

The poor, powerless IOC.

What would Putin do?

It’s a big few years for sport in Russia. In a couple of weeks Moscow hosts the World Athletics Championships. Next January the Winter Olympics bandwagon stops in Sochi. And in 2018 FIFA’s World Cup peppers the country with 32 national teams playing the world’s most popular sport.

Meanwhile, let’s look at some of the laws Russia has recently passed.

July 3: Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a law that means if you — gay or straight, single or married or civilly partnered — live in a country with any form of marriage equality, you will not be allowed to adopt a Russian-born child.

June 20: Putin signed a law allowing the Russian government to arrest, hold and then expel any foreign tourist who is gay or “pro-gay”. You could reasonably expect “pro-gay” activities to include showing the rainbow flag, or arguing for equality — very much considered acts of free speech in modern western democracies.

Earlier in June: Putin classified “homosexual propaganda” as pornography. A teacher in Russia must not state that homosexuality is OK and normal, for example. Worse than that: neither can a judge. Spouting such “propaganda” can lead to arrest and a fine.

Buzzfeed’s 36 Photos From Russia That Everyone Needs To See shows you in graphic detail what’s happening in that country as a result.

The heads of the IAAF, the IOC and FIFA should be worried. How does Russia’s behaviour match all the fine words on equality and anti-discrimination coming from these organisations? It doesn’t, plainly. And what are they going to do about it? Nothing, of course.

I’ve written before and at length about homophobia in football: FIFA blusters much and achieves zip; I don’t want to re-re-rehash that again here. In a statement the IOC claims the new laws won’t affect the Winter Olympics, saying “athletes of all orientations will be welcome at the Games.” There’s a petition calling for a stupid boycott: don’t sign it.

The IAAF, meanwhile, has been silent.

You won’t find any mention on the IAAF’s website of Russia’s new crackdown. The only gay is Tyson Gay. Google finds no mention on the site of the word “homosexual”, and only one instance of “sexuality”, used in an article from 2000 about an athlete who appeared naked in an advert.

Searching for Sexuality on iaaf.org

Now, I happen to have a copy of the IAAF Constitution to hand, along with its official Code of Ethics (these are all available on the IAAF website). In Article 3 of the IAAF Constitution, about the objectives of the IAAF, clauses 3.3 and 3.4 say:

3.3. To encourage participation in Athletics at all levels throughout the world regardless of age, gender or race.

3.4. To strive to ensure that no gender, race, religious, political or other kind of unfair discrimination exists, continues to exist, or is allowed to develop in Athletics in any form, and that all may participate in Athletics regardless of their gender, race, religious or political views or any other irrelevant factor.

Here’s the Code of Ethics, part A.1 (this applies to all IAAF officials):

A.1. No discrimination on the basis of gender, race, religion, political opinion or other such ground will be tolerated in Athletics, including in the IAAF Council, Committees, Commissions and other elected or appointed organs of the IAAF.

And here’s the IAAF Constitution again, under “Rights and obligations of members”, Article 4, clause 8(a):

4.8. Members shall have the following obligations of Membership:

4.8.(a) to respect and further the Objects set out in Article 3;

It strikes me that Russia is, by enacting these new laws, very much in breach of clause 4.8(a) of the IAAF Constitution. I’d also say that any IAAF official who through action or inaction allows discrimination on the basis of sexuality to take place in or around the World Athletics Championships is in violation of the IAAF Code of Ethics.

I tweeted @iaaforg earlier today:

Any response? Nope.

Of course, other countries in the IAAF already discriminate against LGBT people, and the get-out qualifiers “unfair” and “irrelevant” in clause 3.4 are no doubt the ones those countries underline in green ink as justification. But it is rare for a country to reintroduce discrimination it has already shed: and, in any case, the code of ethics to which all IAAF officials must abide has no such qualifier.

I’d like to see two things happen.

Firstly, and most importantly, I want to see LGBT athletes demonstrate publicly, confidently and repeatedly that they are not afraid to be out in elite sport, on and off the field. Visibility, visibility, visibility. It’s visibility that has brought equal marriage rights in England and Wales, and it’s visibility that will change sport — that is changing sport.

Secondly, I want to see straight athletes show their support for LGBT people — and do so on camera, in the stadium. Overtly or covertly, I don’t mind. Painted nails, rainbow pins, messages in interviews, signs to camera when lined up for their events, carrying rainbow flags on laps of honour, anything.

What would the IAAF officials do?

What would Putin do?