Lonely Planet Writer

Why are London's Olympic mascots so creepy?

pinsThe mascots of the 2012 London Olympics have just shown their 'faces' to the world - if indeed a one-eyed, mouthless cube can be called a face. This unholy visage sits atop a Lycra-clad, pot-bellied, club-footed, lobster-clawed shambles of a body.

Mandeville and Wenlock have shuffled onto the Olympic world stage to gasps of horror, confusion and tiny gags of sick. They have been variously described as 'terror sperm' and 'walking alien penis creatures' with a 'disturbing resemblance to partly-blinded Teletubbies'. According to their backstory, they're made from the last two drops of British steel left over from the Olympic stadium. They have cameras for eyes and taxi lights on their heads. Precisely which Orwellian buzz-kill thought scrap metal and CCTV were the makings of lovable mascots?

Aren't mascots meant to be adorable? Inspiring? Aren't they designed to be clutched lovingly within the pudgy, chocolate-caked little fists of toddlers? These things with their singular eyes and sinister mouthlessness are the stuff of nightmares, not only for children but for adults of a more delicate disposition. Add to that the fact that they are on Facebook and Twitter (okay, we know it's not really them but they fill you with such unholy terror that you suspect they'll start tweeting in tongues - you know they've got it in them) and the Olympic spirit makes your blood run cold.

Where are the cuddly Mishas of the Moscow Olympics? Jingjing the Panda of the Beijing Games? Syd the chunky, muscular platypus? Vancouver's the slightly queer but ultimately huggable Quatchi? Even Turin managed to make an ice cube look cute.

mascotBut these one-eyed freaks? I'm happy to ride the London Eye but I don't want it looking at me.

What do you think? Which mascot was your favourite? How do you feel about Mandeville and Wenlock? Hallucinatory genius? Creepy as hell? Or an afterthought from the Phone-It-In Institute?