Wednesday, 25 July 2012

London Olympics: 2 days to go

Whether you are overcome with British pride, counting down the days until it’s over or bursting with excitement, you can’t escape the fact that the Olympics are starting in two days. In London.

This morning the Olympic lanes officially came into force and practice opening ceremony run-throughs have already started.

Admittedly it could be said I have been more a member of the moan-about-everything group of Brits for the majority of the build-up to this historic sporting event. I can appreciate the importance of it – the sense of achievement for competitors, the tourism benefits it will bring to the capital, everyone coming together and taking pride in the country.

However, as someone who works in London I also see the nightmare it is going to cause for commuting to and from work, the impact it will have on my clients, even more packed and stuffy trains, tons of tourists everywhere and major delays to get anywhere. I’m also a tad fed up of everywhere I go having something Olympics-related thrust in my face or shouted at me over an announcement system.

Being driven into work this morning for client go lives I also got rather fed up again as I realised how much more traffic there was on the roads coming into London even around 530am (and the Olympic lanes didn’t open until 6am). This annoys me as it’s already early enough to get up without having to get up even earlier to arrive into work for the same time (or potentially later) on these days.

On going home last night I noticed the screens at Liverpool Street kindly letting me know that on Friday (the opening ceremony) we should note that trains will be running with at least 2 hour delays. Great, so I’ll just start my weekend 3-4 hours later then shall I. As for commuting during normal hours Monday onwards (we work 9am-6pm) I dread to think how that is going to go, Greater Anglia can hardly run a good service as it is now. Yesterday the trains were running more slowly due to the hot weather and some trains weren’t stopping at my station.

We have tickets to the closing ceremony of the Paralympics in September and also some tickets to grant us access around the Olympic Park and some general information events at the Excel Centre. My boyfriend purchased them whilst I was sulking I wasn’t bothered about the whole thing! The tickets and information packs arrived recently and to be honest I still didn’t feel that excited or interested.

However, on Sunday the Olympic torch came to the area I grew up in and something changed. I think for the Queen’s Jubilee there were one or two parties in the area but not much happened apart from a little bit of bunting going up.

As we arrived on the main road where the torch would feature this weekend, the pavements were lined – families and friends I haven’t seen since I lived on the estate were there, neighbours were there, some people had picnics, most had flags. A man was coming out of his house offering everyone cold cans of beer, people on crutches, in wheelchairs and on sticks all hobbled out (including my Mum recovering from her broken leg!) Families sat on picnic blankets, people brought up their own chairs, gardens opened up for parties, flags were waved and cheers called out.

It was fantastic. It was such a lovely lovely atmosphere. I thought how nice it was and how different it was to have everyone come together like that. I was proud of our country and genuinely excited about this historic event happening and my own area featuring in it in some way. I took tons of photos and smiled, cheered and flag-waved my way through the event.

Check out the Olympic torch video courtesy of my boyfriend to see some of it for yourselves.

Of course Monday came; I listened to Boris booming out at the station about the Olympics, the train driver telling me Stratford is home to the Olympic Park, saw the Olympic mascot figures dotted around everywhere and heard fellow commuters discussing delay rumours they’ve heard and my dread for this London 2012 event reappeared. Well, after all, I am British, complaining’s what we do!

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