Me at the olympic park
So, on Monday I went to the Olympics. Quite a long time ago I spent £60 on 3 tickets to the Women’s Waterpolo for the simple reason they were quite cheap, it was a sport I more or less understood (I actually played it once) and I figured going to the Olympic Park and being part of London 2012 was a once in a lifetime experience.
I was right!
I (fairly famously) don’t get sport – I’ve never successfully sat through any Olympic Coverage, Wimbledon etc. and left to my own devices I wouldn’t watch international football (although I do enjoy watching it with others), I don’t mind playing sport although I am universally bad at it – but I’m even less of a spectator, so it seems slightly illogical that I enjoyed my day out at the olympics so much – but here’s why.
The atmosphere was incredible, everyone there was really happy to be there – from the spectators who were really enjoying the experience, to the army working the security who were laid back, polite and funny, to the ‘gamesmakers’ who genuinely went out of their way to help everyone and nothing was too much trouble. The whole place was treated with a massive amount of respect by everyone as well: there wasn’t any litter anywhere (and not because there was a small army of people picking it up: litter pickers were wandering around with half empty bags) – because everyone there treated the place like people who are proud of their country and what it’s achieved should.
No-one queue jumped, no one was rude to people who were rummaging in their bags trying to find tickets, no one got annoyed when muppets with cameras stopped randomly to take photos in the middle of the crowd (that would be me then…)
The sport itself was fine too, I mean I didn’t really understand it, and team GB lost – but I’m not sure it was one of our medal hopes anyway – and the crowd were really behind the team and genuinely excited about the activity in the venue. The phrase ‘carnival atmosphere’ is horribly overused but the whole place had it – and it really felt like a rare celebration of the UK actually making something good happen when it tries.
London in general was working at it’s best as well, the transport infrastructure wasn’t falling apart. The trains were busy but not overcrowded, platform staff were polite (borderline mad in some cases, such as the singing bloke on the tube platform at Stratford) and friendly – and everything just worked. The whole tube (even stations well away from the olympic hubbub) were cleaner than I’ve ever seen them and London’s streets generally seemed to have had someone go over them with a feather duster. Everything felt good about being in London yesterday.
This is now the 4th time, something I’ve expected to be horribly cynical about has swept me up and got me excited this year: I was caught up in the magic of the little ships on the Thames for the Jubilee, I fell in Love a bit covering the Olympic Torch relay and I got somehow filled with a believe that I really live in a country that’s pretty bloody great really during the Olympic opening ceremony – I said on twitter after watching that particular masterpiece I will give up cynicism for good – I am seriously contemplating genuinely trying.
Wish me luck,
Strangely optimistic Mark.