It’s the tenth of the month, which means two things: the preparation notes are now ready for my monthly scrapbooking challenge at UKScrappers, and it’s time for 10 Things: a blogging project filled with lists of anything, as long as there are ten things i the list. And with that, I bring you Ten signs the Olympics are coming to Londontown.
1. There are giant Olympic rings hanging from Tower Bridge. Huge. Can’t miss ‘em. There is a set at St Pancras international too, if you’re doing any channel crossing by train. Perhaps more impressive, the biggest set of Olympic rings ever has been mown into the grass at Richmond Park so they are visible from the air. I have a flight from Heathrow this Saturday, so I’m hoping for a window seat and a peek for the full effect.
2. Boris Johnson’s voice can now be heard on the loudspeaker of many train and tube stations. The first time I heard this at my local station was ridiculously early last Saturday morning and it nearly made me jump out of my skin, as all the other announcements are done by a robot voice rather than a recording of an actual person. Now I get a little nervous with the reminder that my usually quiet little station is an official Olympic route stop, and will likely be absolutely packed to the brim. (Locals, if you’re coming to Blackheath, be advised there are no ticket barriers on our station, and if you don’t remember to touch in and out on Oyster, you’ll be fined. We have all learnt this the hard way.)
3. We have Olympic-themed bunting in the village and some flags on the heath. In the bright colours of this year’s branding – pink, purple, orange and turquoise. It went up a week or so after the Jubilee and it clearly has the Olympic and Paralympic logos alongside the 2012 design (of which I am so not a fan, but no one really asked me). I was standing at the road crossing when a lady looked up and remarked, ‘Oh, it’s nice they finally put something up for the Jubilee.’ Proof that some of the London population are applying the denial rule to all things Olympic this summer.
4. Everything that normally happens in a London summer is still happening, just on a much bigger scale. This past weekend, I watched some performances as part of the Big Dance, which happens every summer. Except this year it was everywhere! Circus tents at the Royal Naval College! At St Pancras Station! City Hall! (Actually, this is on-going at the moment and it’s not just in London, so have a look here for their full programme.) Speaking to a friend with an interest in independent film-making, she reported there have been so many more opportunities to collaborate or take a class as people get excited about how the city will change for these few months. So I’m thinking the same is happening across so many topics.
5. The tourist groups are already bigger than usual. I’m not sure any of us can imagine what this is going to be like during the games themselves. Our local park is a pretty big tourist attraction anyway (hey, who doesn’t want to stand in both the eastern and western hemispheres AT THE SAME TIME I ask you?) but in the days before the park closed, the tourist groups ballooned in size. The same is in full effect in the West End and on the South Bank. I’m used to seeing tour groups of twenty or so, with a leader holding a random flag or umbrella to guide them, but in the past week I’ve seen multiple groups that are in the fifty to a hundred size. They move more slowly and take up so much more room. Yesterday I ran into such a group in a stairwell and I was of course going the opposite direction. I can’t say it was the most pleasant situation of all time really.
6. The park is closed. We have known this was coming for a very long time, but it doesn’t make it any less sad. Much of the park has been closed for some time now as the equestrian arena, stabling and security is constructed, but now it is completely closed, and that goes for the Royal Observatory and the Planetarium too, which I know sounds like a random thing to lose from your everyday life, but we are actually members there so it’s more everyday than you might think. (Everyday but clearly not every day, yes?) On the flip side, the National Maritime Museum is not closed and has been recently kitted out with a swish new wing. I highly recommend the current special exhibition on the Royal River: it includes actual musical notebooks from Purcell and Handel, scrapbooks of royals from the early days of civilian photography, and some amazing revelations in the long tradition of trinkets made to commemorate coronations and royal marriages. Plus a full history of the Thames and many amazing paintings of its various incarnations (including the frozen Thames turned into a street carnival).
7. There are now little pink signs on tube maps that indicate which lines you need to get to the different event sites. Actually quite handy for not going to an event too, as this is a time when I’m sure I will be taking the longer route if getting from A to B means I can avoid the traffic of those going to an event.
8. Our Olympic tickets arrived! We have a set of cheap seats for round one of Men’s Basketball, and I also have a ticket to go be an audience stand-in for a day of testing things in the stadium before the games actually open, which sounds like it could be quite the mysterious adventure.
9. I have been to no fewer than three official interviews to verify my identity and good intentions so I can be trusted to guide tourists as a London Ambassador (that uniform is rather amazing, I tell you) and be part of another rather large event during games time (still can’t tell you about that part). Relieved to say I have passed all three security interviews and now been granted all sorts of large photo ID cards to hang around my neck, a pin that indicates I can speak a tiny bit of Spanish, and one particularly stylish trilby hat.
10. People are either EXCITED!!!! or grumpy. I wanted to say there is not much in between, but that would be wrong. Londoners do things in between. It is not a city of extreme emotion. We do not talk to strangers here and we do not make eye contact. It takes a while to understand that it’s not a rude thing – it’s a case of I don’t know you and I don’t want to intrude in your space/mind/life. In many cases, anyway. (There are rude people here of course. There are rude people everywhere, just like there are amazingly kind people everywhere. Thank goodness.) So I think it is merely more visible that people are EXCITED!!!!! or grumpy, because any sort of emotion on show is pretty radical here. But the EXCITED!!!!! people? They make me exceptionally giddy.
By the way, I do have some scrapbooking projects up my sleeve for games time. And I’m mostly concerned at how slow the internet will be with all the extra online streaming of live footage. I will keep reminding myself of dial-up in the countryside circa 1994 to get through it all, and that should keep me in good perspective!
Have ten things you want to share with the world? Blog it and then link it up here! Ten things, no matter what they are, just as long as they are ten!
10 July 2012