Article in the paper this morning which I think sums up China, beautifully.
It was saying while the IOC and China are happy for you to sear the two freaks of human nature, Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt, permanently into your hardrive forever, there are a couple of other names they'd really rather you never get to hear of.
Wu Dianyuan and Wang Xiuying.
These grandmothers' story sounds like something straight out of Fawlty Towers.
They're 77 and 79, both walk with canes and Wang is blind in one eye. They used to be neighbours.
So let's talk about the 'used to be' bit.
They were evicted from their homes near Tiananmen Square in 2001 to make way for, oh, some new development and were then relocated to ramshackle apartments on the outskirts of Beijing. 'We're wrenching you out of downtown, and sticking you into the 'burbs where you'll only be a four hour bike ride from your family.You can thank us for the exercise later.'
Understandably these two were not entirely happy with their not-so-salubrious new addresses.
And they weren't the only ones. The Chinese were well aware of this ground swell of grumpiness about the Olympics, so they said 'Okay guys, there will be three parks around the city during the Olympics where you will be able to throw your wee tanties.'
And Wu and Wang must have waved their white canes firmly in the air declaring, 'Hell yeah, baby, we'll be there.'
However this is China. If you want to protest (and presumably not get shot or run over by a tank) you have to apply for a permit to protest.
So Wu and Wang took themselves off to the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau to apply for a permit to demonstrate.
And guess what happened then?
They were held for ten hours and interrogated by officers.
But did that stop Wu and Wang? Hell no, they're Chinese. They returned five more times, until such time they were informed that they were no longer eligible to protest.
Why is that, you ask?
Protesters can't be over the age of seventy-four and a half? Protesters can't be blind in one eye? Protesters can't have something to protest about ?
They were ineligible to protest because because they had been sentenced to a year's re-education through labour for disturbing the peace.
Huh? But these ladies are in their seventies ? What on earth had been their crime? Is there something they weren't telling us? Do they have some sort of fabulous secret lives? Had they stolen some boy racer cars and were they burning it up around the streets of Beijing? Were they having all night raves in their ramshackle apartments and keeping the neighbourhood awake?
Why had they been given this sentence?
They had been given this sentence because (oh, this is glorious) because they'd been applying for permits to protest.
It seriously begs the question - is Basil Fawlty running the country?