With the runaway success of Team GB at the Rio Olympics, British people are now expecting medals for virtually every activity. The phenomenon was first observed after Adam Peaty took the gold for the 100m breaststroke on day 2 of the Olympics, whereupon a fight broke out between two pensioners at the early-bird swim in the Wavertree Aquatics Centre in Liverpool over the pool attendant’s refusal to hold an award ceremony using some benches and a stack of floats as a podium.
Initially, the problem seemed to be confined to sporting activities. The Hull Ladies’ Crown Green Bowling Club hired local lad Reece Shearsmith at great expense to decorate them for their victory over the Humber Bowling Demons Ladies’ team, choosing to play Housemartins hit ‘Happy Hour’ instead of the national anthem during the ceremony. In Cornwall, a last-minute sprint gave Mevagissey man Dan Polter a victory over Devonian outsider Alan Hammond-Jones in the charity egg-and-spoon race at the parish church of St Kentigern, before a ceremony on the village green, attended by local dignitaries and Derek Thomas, the Conservative MP for St Ives.
However, as the Team GB Rio medals have stacked up, so has medalmania in the UK. The insistence on being given not only a medal, but an accompanying solemn ceremony with a podium, a flag and music, has now spread into less obvious pursuits. Police had to be called to a branch of Aldi in Cardiff when a woman demanded to see the manager after she claimed to be due a gold medal for getting her shopping into the bags at the same speed at which it had been fed through the scanner. She was charged with common assault, fined and banned from all branches of Aldi in Wales for twelve months. Further incidents of medalmania include unrest caused by people who were upset at not receiving medals for ‘getting a Renault Captur into a tight parking space’, ‘putting a USB stick into the slot the right way up first time’ and ‘understanding all of the lyrics of Come On, Eileen’.
While many of the incidents of medalmania have been dealt with in a timely and relatively trouble-free manner, the authorities are concerned that the attitude could become ingrained in British culture, adding billions of pounds to the cost of an already strained infrastructure. An emergency session of parliament was called to discuss the growing crisis. Michael Fallon was awarded the gold medal for ‘shouting for the longest before being told to pack it in by the Speaker’.