Last weekend I braced myself to enter the fray of flag-clad wannabee athletes crowding the streets of London as I briefly became part of the Olympic experience. I was off to see the womens’ volleyball at Earls Court, having blagged some last-minute tickets. I have a number of observations to share with you from this little jaunt:
- London was eerily quiet – I guess the usual crowd are avoiding the centre and working from home, leaving the coast clear for revelling spectators. I got a seat on the tube at rush hour and everything…
- London is HAPPY! Grumpy shoe-gazing and vacant head-lolling on the tube were replaced with dazzling beams, excited chatter and even good-natured conversations between strangers – brilliant.
- West Brompton cemetery is AMAZING (believe me, it warrants capitals). My friend had arranged for us to meet inside said cemetery. I felt I could have been on my way to a blind-date with a psychopath or to a clandestine meeting with Bond and M. However, the reason for the location was far less sinister – it was, and you could predict this: floral. My friend knows me so well. I was blown away by the unkempt oasis of clambering wildflowers and undocked grasses amidst an otherwise intensively managed urban environment. Birds and squirrels hopped along the ground, confident and smug that they had one of the best addresses in the city.
But of all the above observations, the greatest was undoubtedly the unsurpassed happiness levels permeating the streets of our infamously dour capital. It was exciting, uplifting, infectious. Amidst unending gloom and doom coming from the media of late, suddenly we have something positive to believe in and inspire us – and boy, has the populace responded, with an outpouring of patriotic pride. The atmosphere in the streets around the Earls Court venue was one of shared fun and inclusivity. After the matches finished, we ended up sharing rounds of malibu shots (even more rank than I remember) with fellow flag-clad revellers to celebrate GB’S gold rush, as Victoria Pendleton’s gorgeous gold-hued smile beamed into the pub from the large-screen.
I am hoping that the effects of the olympics are felt long after the torch is extinguished. ‘Inspiring a generation’ is s very apt tag-line, although perhaps it should have been ‘inspiring a nation’. I feel the inspiration needn’t be confined to sporting prowess, but should extend to an attitude towards life. The olympics has reminded us to be cheerful, supportive, to smile and have fun, and to share experiences with those around us, strangers or not. Long may that continue… 🙂