On the tube back from the airport, home bound from a satisfyingly sunny week in Sicily to a rather smothering London, I was unpleasantly surprised to hear Mayor Boris’s not so dulcet tones. Nothing could have jerked me out of my gelato filled day dream faster than his Etonian, priggish “hi folks” , coupled with his warning of the chaos the Olympics are going to invite. The message’s tone is so resoundingly British and indeed the message did echo a good four times throughout my journey on the “marvellous transport machine.” This was followed by an alert to the “variety of miscreants operating on a number of carriages” , and I naturally made sure that all my valuables were closely on my person at all times as I would not want to risk “these opportunists making off” with my possessions.
To be honest, I am actually rather excited about the games, but more so for the atmosphere and sense of community they induce. Annoying as it is that ticket availability was far from adequate for Londoners, if the weather holds out, the big screens popping up around green spots everywhere offer a lovely alternative. The transport disruptions are inevitable, expected and all the more frustrating – as a number of US athletes discovered when a 45 minute from the airport to the Olympic village took 3 hours longer than planned. Needless to say this was down to a lost driver who in Boris’s view allowed the Olympians to “see more of our beautiful scenery” on their Monopoly tour.
…this Olympic structure seems to stick out for all the wrong reasons…
There’s however the somewhat contradictory issue of Olympic sponsors that deserves some attention. The largest McDonald’s restaurant in the world will open its doors to visitors in the Olympic village, alongside Coca-Cola, the drink of choice (no Pepsi permitted within a mile’s radius) and Cadbury. I’m not quite sure how promoting health and Chicken McNuggets go hand in hand, yet at least that heart attack can be generated by choice.
Furthermore, the red steel monstrosity, christened the ArcelorMittal Orbit, has plonked itself amidst East London’s skyline as an unavoidable eyesore that no amount of artistic license can excuse. Yes, it is a visually dominating statement and certainly attention grabbing, but with the undeniably steep ticket price of £15 to catch a view of London, this Olympic structure seems to stick out for all the wrong reasons and would perhaps be more at home in a theme park (or under the Thames).
…suit clad bodies packed together like the bricks in a well-played game of Tetris…
Despite the legalities surrounding branding, I came across some amusing bags bearing the 2012 logo, replaced with slogans such as, “I’m renting my flat to a fat American family”, and “they’re all on steroids.” I wonder how the copyright police will react to that. The multitude of expected issues are a tad irritating, especially for those around before and in the aftermath of the event. London does however seem to be putting its best face forward, with parks, gardens and roads looking pruned and prepared.
As I perched on the edge of my suitcase, head carefully tilted to one angle to avoid being battered by briefcases, the crowds and commotion outweighed the celebratory ambience. Quite frankly I’m not so sure how marvellous that particular Central line train was at rush hour that day, with roasting suit clad bodies packed together like the bricks in a well-played game of Tetris, and the musty smell of body odour mingling with the cheesy chips and kebab, which the youth with his trousers half way down his derriere was scoffing. Boris’s message ended with a curt, “don’t get caught out.” With most of the city in upheaval, one can only hope.