Our Olympic day tripping

1 Aug

So, I caved in and capitulated, and bought tickets to London’s moment of glory.  I said it was for the kids, and to be honest, that was my original motivation.  I had visions of the Ls turning to me when older and querying why, through my incomplete idealogical objections, they had missed out on being two of the generation to be inspired.  A fair enough point, had they had occasion to make it, so I determined they would not, and forked out for men’s hockey tickets for yesterday, early doors.  Early doors – 8.30am start.

More on that, shortly.

Last week as I embarked upon my near-daily epic Hyde Park stroll from work, I got caught up in Olympic Fever.  The BT London Live showcase in the park, preparing for the Torch Relay climax last Thursday, with signs screaming out about what was coming up and the office TVs streaming live coverage of the Torch’s progress down Oxford Street and Regent Street to Piccadilly, such familiar scenery the backdrop to something globally spectacular, switched my mood in an instant, from ‘resigned to getting up early and fighting through crowds to see a sport I’ve not engaged with since school’ to ‘incredibly excited about getting up early and fighting through crowds to see a sport I used to quite enjoy at times at school’.

At the same time, the Ls had taken part in an Olympic Day at school, held the Torch (incredible moment) and been given a sheet with Team GB key names, in order to chart their progress.  The fact they were going to the Olympics was a jewel to them, that they held close and displayed proudly.

And after all my cynicism and uncertainty about how good the Olympics really was for ordinary Londoners going about their business – and I confess, I am still not certain about the answer to that one – we had a once-in-a-lifetime day out.  Not because the Olympics are unlikely to come back to the UK any time soon, but because of how well the sum of the parts went together to make the whole, creating that most intangible of qualities, ‘atmosphere’.  The Olympic Park could have invented the concept of ‘atmosphere’.  The air was somehow different, and there was friendliness and tolerance in it.  Games Makers high-fived the kids with their giant purple pointy finger hands.

We’re not familiar with hockey (I played it, in a desultory fashion, at school), and I only chose it because I wanted the kids to see something that, even with my rudimentary knowledge, I was aware would be truly exciting, but the commentators were prepared for people like me.  Their easy-to-understand explanations as to what would happen, what was happening and why made it easy to get involved with the game.  We chose teams to support based on personal connections – with good friends from South Korea and Australia, those were our teams of choice – but with the vibe as it was, you could have been completely neutral and still achieved the same levels of excitement – in fact, L1 did keep asking me, ‘who ARE we supporting, Mummy?’

We did experience a ticket cock-up: booked into Row 5, when we got to the venue it rapidly became clear that there was no Row 5, but that was dealt with swiftly, efficiently and very fairly.  And yes, the stadium was – to quote Lord Coe, which you won’t find me doing with frequency ‘packed to the gunwhales’.  Of course I have seen and been outraged by the empties, but it wasn’t the case in the Riverbank Arena.

Afterwards, meandering through the park after the unexpected treat of managing to meet our mates, I marvelled at the sheer level of thought that had gone into the whole.  Obviously, it has been years in the planning and making, but what I didn’t expect was the extent of the completion.  The wildflower beds, the role of the canal throughout the landscaping, and that incredible, unique sculpture, towering above the whole experience as a beacon to where you are at any given point, all made a sense of entirety which made it a sheer pleasure to be there, basically just ‘having the experience’, without needing to spend any money or plan any specific activities.  We’re hooked.  There are still lots of things to do with the event that I can’t agree with, but in terms of ‘inspiring a generation’, I think it has succeeded. In our household I think it has managed to inspire two.

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2 Responses to “Our Olympic day tripping”

  1. whistlesandbellsne August 1, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

    How wonderful to hear your account of your day, given that we were party to the big build up the day before! Can’t wait to sample some of that atmosphere at the men’s football quarter final on Saturday at the magnificent stadium that is St James Park!

    • lizrossmartyn August 1, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

      Thank you! It was everything we had hoped for and more; I think you guys will have the best time. Just make sure you drink in the atmosphere – it’s pretty special.

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