Thursday, 2 August 2012

'Lympics Innit!

So the London 2012 Olympics have finally arrived. After all the grumbling about disruption and gridlock, threatened strikes by UK Border staff, and protests by taxi drivers things have gotten underway - albeit with more business being done in the East End than in the West End.

An effort to jazz things up in the London rain!
I missed most of the Opening Ceremony as I was in transit from Milan back to London.

When I arrived in Croydon late last Friday night there were alot of people milling around in rather zany costumes, like glittery nurse outfits an skirts made out of silver coated plates. One woman was draped from head to toe in everything you could possibly wear in Union Jacks. Just an ordinary night out in Croydon's clubland? No - it was people who had taken part in the opening ceremony.


They'd played their part in television history and were on their way home, to watch the show on catch-up TV or i-player. Participants in the ceremony will have been rehearsing every weekend since April, but they still will have had no idea what the whole spectacle looked like because they were only exposed to their section of the event, which in itself will have had around 1400 performers. It's a bit ironic that even though they were at the centre of the action they would be the last people to see the opening ceremony! I have only seen highlights, but from what I have seen it looked quite spectacular.

Watching the peloton go by in the men's cycle road race near Box Hill
For me what has been very impressive has been the way that areas that I normally go to have been transformed beyond belief in order to accommodate the venues. For instance, the road race venue at Box Hill. The National Trust Centre on the hill had a new coat of paint, lots of new signboards giving information, facts and figures about the area, and various artworks painted on the walls. Even the ladies in the tea-shop had dressed up specially for the occasion and were even smilier than usual!

Olympic rings feature in various parts of the city, and there were some in the side of the hill above Dorking. Also, a road like Headley Common, which just gets horsey traffic and hikers and a few club cyclists was suddenly packed to the rafters with cycling fans, and team cars - just like in the Tour de France.

The Treasury Building was completely transformed for the Olympics
Horse Guards Parade, where the beach volleyball was held, looked surreal considering that this area is largely occupied by government offices hosting the corridors of power. What a contrast, having bikini-clad ladies playing in the sand next door to the suited and booted in the Prime Minister's office, or the Treasury Building!

 I am glad to see that the Olympics have still kept a London feel about it, with many events taking place in venues that we already know and love.



The police, the military, the gamesmaker marshalls and all other staff have been good spirited and shown some London humour. And we have even had some London rain, but nobody seemed to mind! So there we were worrying that things might be a bit shambolic, but in fact it's not been bad so far. May the games continue smoothly!

Enjoying women's beach volleyball at Horse Guards Parade

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