Here come the Olympics

In this country we’re good at being cynical, but also at putting our principles aside in the name of ‘not making a fuss or being negative’. So with the budget-busting, school/education/younameit-costing Olympic Games coming to London, we’ve all had to take off our thinking caps and Back the Bid. No, that was before. Now we have to Get Ahead of the Games. Behind them? Whatever.

Yesterday the games came through Tooting.  We live on the main road so had front row seats, as it were. So there we stood by the road and watched things unfold. Before the legitimately moving sight of a young lad with the torch we saw some representatives of Samsung handing out blue rumble sticks. It was as if Jesus was back feeding the five thousand with a loaf made by Heston Blumenthal: people shoved and pushed and screeched, all so they could pick up these inflatable pieces of plastic, plastic that when inflated said nothing about the Olympics at all, merely housing the word SAMSUNG.

So all we idiots stood there in anticipation, waving our Samsung adverts.

Next came a Samsung lorry, filled with the kind of people you would do anything to avoid at school (or anywhere else in fact), the vacuus outgoing rahrahrahwe’restandingonanirrelevantlorrywithsamsungwrittenonthesideofit type. The music got louder, like they do at the rugby sevens to mask the fact that the sport is rubbish and being watched by people who go to one sporting event a year. We were all, as is the way these days, invited to be excited by the loud music.


Then a Coca-Cola lorry went by.

Then a minibus with Tim Lovejoy in it (note that there are many high windows on this route, very book depository like in some ways. These thoughts occurred to me when Lovejoy went by).

Then a Lloyds TSB lorry, whose compere initially seemed to have a little self-awareness; I could sense that he felt slightly absurd up there, although he spoilt it all by asking “it anyone here from Tooting?!” to which everyone below, from Tooting, shouted “wooooooo!”.

Finally came the main event, some lad with the torch, and to this I shed a tear. A magic moment for him, somewhat akin to what the Olympics might be meant to be about, and no obvious sponsor in sight. He really will never forget this.

After all this we went to the local pub but it was full, so we took Stanley to the playground behind St George’s hospital instead. Here we found one of the greatest things ever, a lad, perhaps two years of age, hurtling after a pigeon at extraordinary speed. The thing was, though, that this was no ordinary lad – he was massive, built like a space hopper, with two extraordinarily bowed legs splaying out sideways in surprisingly graceful movements. It was hypnotic, this giant of a lad with crazy posture, hurtling round and round after pigeons. I’d seen nothing like it before, nor will I again I don’t imagine. Unless he makes the Olympics in 2030, which is highly likely if the rugby people don’t get to him first.

Then we came home. A lovely evening that made us all very happy indeed. Thank you, Olympics.

8 thoughts on “Here come the Olympics

  1. One of my favorite memories as a child was seeing the Olympic relay come through our small town (pop just under 8,000). I’ve always loved the Olympic Games and was very bummed when Chicago missed out on hosting the 2016 games. I live like 90 minutes from Chicago.

    Good luck, London. I’m sure you’ll put on a proper show. And good luck, USA…hop across the pond and do what we do best…DOMINATE THE OLYMPICS!

  2. Lovely story – made all the more personal by the fact that the torch came through Ealing, where I live, today. My first job was a brief stint on the London 2012 bid and seeing it all come together, with two Ealing ladies in the Great Britain hockey team, and a number of ex-Fulham Ladies in the British side that will kick off the women’s football in Cardiff tomorrow, makes me very pleased indeed.

  3. It passes within 100 yards of my own home tomorrow afternoon. Your account makes it easier to bear the fact I shall be missing it. (With a small child in tow, fair enough, a bit of fun.)

    That the whole torch business dates from 1936 is somewhat of a turnoff. It will be carried past here by [Harry Potter films actor] Rupert Grint, a man with no known connection either to the Olympics or this area. Maybe there’s a brand advertisement connection.

  4. The ten o’clock news and all the Olympic coverage is being anchored from the top of my old flats in Stratford. I wonder if Fiona and Gary will use the same pissy lift that I had to put up with. The residents of the flats who remain (the rest were ‘decanted’) wanted to hang a banner from their tower protesting about their treatment – they were denied on health and safetey grounds. A massive banner for Gillette does however adorn the tower.
    Last Saturday while Samsung and Coke, lead the way for the official torch, three of us ran the poverty torch from Stratford, to Fred Wigg Tower (when the SAM missiles are located) to the massive temporary cop shop on Wanstead Flats.

    http://counterolympicsnetwork.wordpress.com/2012/07/22/logo-free-counter-olympics-torch-relay-completes-first-leg/

  5. Good on you Simon. I saw the report about you today – good work.

    I’m looking forward to the sport and enjoyed the torch relay that I saw when in Ashford last week, but the politics involved, the ‘brand Britain’ part of it is really depressing. Boris Johnson is probably one of those who enjoys a minimum number of sporting events a year and now, not only having to hear him at major stations he invaded my space at Streatham too on my way to work today.

    1. Mixed feelings here. I’m frankly relieved it’s well away from my part of London and wouldn’t want missiles on my roof either. But would my attitude (and by inference is your attitude) essentially different from any other kind of NIMBY-ism?

      You may be more than just a NIMBY because you simply wouldn’t want the Olympics held in this country full-stop, a position which can be backed with some good reasons. May even be that the present government are inwardly cursing they’ve been landed with the thing, which is potentially a nightmare, but it’s a fact of life since 7 years ago and has to be accomplished. How much of the security stuff is overkill I’m unequipped to assess and it’s not obvious that, just because you are locally affected by it (hard luck again) you are equipped either.

      As for the brand stuff, it’s tacky indeed and who could possibly think otherwise, but the alternative would either be having more public funding for the event or scaling it down. I’d not be averse to the latter as the whole thing has because bloated over the years, but the bid would never have been won on that basis.

      Which brings us back to: we shouldn’t have bid in the first place. If that’s the underpinning view behind your campaign then fair enough. Otherwise, not so sure.

  6. I saw the torch make its way down near where I work. There is something truly magic about it, isn’t there?

    On a completely unrelated note, due to the heat, I have been listening to lots of Surf Rock and the track I’ve had on repeat most is by ‘Richie Allen & The Pacific Surfers’ – it’s really good! I hope you like it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNEnAPguZ3I

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