Thursday, 23 August 2012

Now The Olympic Is Over We Can All Ignore Each Again

Now the main games are over, the general public of London commuters seem to be back to their old selves - if a stranger speaks to them on the Tube they pretend they don't hear for being engrossed in their book. 

During this time people seemed genuinely nicer to each other, whether they were on their way to see the games or on their way to work. Shop staff were friendlier, transport staff were more helpful and the general public had a sense of pride about themselves, not in the smug sense but in unity. This seemed more evident in clusters, like on busy tubes or trains, platforms and queues, and even in long queues people, even me, moaned less. Volunteers were singing silly made up songs into their megaphones, there was a refreshing amusing attitude that would raise eyebrows and spit tuts any other time but now.

As with the World Cup, strangers world-wide can make conversation because we all have one thing in common, even though they may come across as worlds apart. 

I don't usually use the "C" word but I couldn't help myself lap up the community spirit and that bonding sense of belonging -  I personally belong to a minority group, I'm one of those people who talk to strangers on tubes and get ignored in exchange for <em>The Da Vinci Code</em> - and my friend and I have even been pumping the tyres of a tandem, decorated the basket with red white and blue flowers, flags and bunting, ready to parade along the canals of East London to mark the completion of a once in our lifetime event. If you see us, stop, we have treats!

Admittedly I'm no sport enthusiast, in fact I couldn't be less enthusiastic, but living so close to the Olympic Park- in fact my car park and balcony were in use by friends and family eager to get to the site in twenty minutes door to door or photograph the fabulous fireworks displays - I was surrounded by Olympic Mania the minute I left my home to the minute I arrived back. It was like living in a giant Camper-van at a music festival.

Stratfords Westfield Centre is my local shopping centre, and during very hectic shopping trips I found myself getting excited and borderline emotional every time I saw someone in a shell suit, until the realization hit me that I was after all in Stratford and that wasn't uncommon at all.

I was fortunate enough to get tickets into the stadium on the last day of the main games, 
The very firs thing that came into my head when I walked into the Olympic Park was that it seemed like a very clean Glastonbury Festival. It had the crowds, diversity and friendliness but not the litter, perfume de portaloo or the mud.

I was surprised to see such casual attire, I had no idea what people were wearing to the Olympics as the only people I'd observed in full attire on TV were athletes and Kate Middleton, so formal dress of my nations' colours, red heels and royal blue fascinator hat it was... and of course everyone else is in comfy lights and trainers. 

I even saw the very last game from the front row, and witnessed a world record, things I'll never experience again in my lifetime. However I can't tell you what either of these were, I was buzzing from the experience as a whole, scanning the crowds, listening to a medley of languages and playing less attention to the games. Besides, there were three games running at any one time and I didn't know where to direct my focus - a bit like Sunday lunch arriving whilst you're starving and you don't know what to dig into first - not saying the Olympics is an exciting as Sunday lunch of course, merely just a rubbish metaphor. 
From someone with no interest in sport I was certainly easily excited and only stopped cheering to breath. I even clapped and whistled at volunteers as they entered the track with buckets.

And of course I got to see the winners and runners up be presented with their Jim'll Fix It badges, as we stood and pretended to know the words to their national anthem. 

And finally, speaking of singing, describing what I'd seen to friends was a bit like singing The 12 Days Of Christmas there were eight poles vaulting, seven ladies running, six hammer throwing, five gold rings..

Oh well, I guess we'll have to wait another three years, eleven months and two weeks before we start being nice to people we don't know again.

For the Huffington Post version of this, click here..

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