Yesterday I joined the millions who have stood diligently in line at the side of roads across the nation waiting for an elaborate lighter to pass by in a convoy of corporate vans. It was brilliant.
The denizens of North London’s middle-class values happily waved their sponsor flags and glugged down ‘fun-size’ bottles of Coke Zero (they don’t waste the good stuff on freebies). LOGOC’s enforcers sternly removed all non-official bunting and balloons – Olympic fun is a strictly defined concept with very distinct boundaries. These definitely do not extend to cycling shops making the Olympic Rings out of five inner tubes, no matter how well Bradley Wiggins and co have done over in France.
Yet more well-wishers perched on balconies and rooftops, while the pub on the corner overflowed from every window as the crowds jostled for a better vantage point. Everyone knew what we were waiting for – the Torch has been on the news every day and you can even monitor its progress online as it travels the length and breadth of Britain like a very unfunny Eddie Izzard. But still, people waved at every passing van and a girl on a bike got a sizeable cheer as she passed with her Whole Foods Market shopping.
The idiosyncrasies of Britain’s particular take on the Torch procession reached a new high when the traffic lights stopped a Range Rover blaring out Jay-Z and Alicia Keys ode to their hometown, Empire State of Mind. More people joined in to celebrate that other “concrete jungle where dreams are made true” and “there’s nothing you can’t do” than did when an overenthusiastic guy in a Team GB vest atop a bus urged everyone to “make some noise”.
A youngster to my left mistakenly believed he was waiting for David Beckham himself to jog up Green Lanes carrying the flame. No such luck. It was actually a young lad who was, as the aforementioned heckler suggested, going at quite a lick.
Grumbles abounded: we had waited for the best part of an hour and the thrill only lasted the lesser part of a minute. It was how I imagine waiting for a ride at Alton Towers would be, if I ever had the inclination. Another kid was unimpressed. “I could do that. I could make a flame, and make a fire, and run down the road and everyone would see, and it would be cool, and I would be the best at it.” His bored dad sank some more Olympic Spirit (5.2%) and nodded in agreement.
At the gates of Clissold Park, two ladies were dressed as giant butterflies. They looked relatively subtle in comparison to the Olympic juggernaut that had just passed. Now all eyes turn to the Opening Ceremony on Friday, and a unique opportunity to be underwhelmed again, and revel in it. Can’t wait.
Image by davehighbury on Flickr