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Life with Lavendar in London town

Monday, 30 July 2012

London Olympics 2012

Ever since I moved to London seven years ago, the spectre of the Olympics hung over the city like a wonky oasis. In the long, slow build up to this event of events, the jokes were many and the expectations few. After all this is a city where the transport system fails regularly, where bureaucratic cockups are the norm and where the citizens can't even queue in a straight line.

And also on top of that, we had to draw the short straw and follow the Beijing Olympics. Or should I say those Olympics where after the first ten minutes of the Opening Ceremony, the rest of the world was cowered into awestruck, stupified submission. Job done.

Yes Beijing. You own the world. We get it.

Many Londoners, after failing to get tickets in the Olympic ballot washed their hands of the whole affair and busted ass to sunnier climes to sit out the two week hullabaloo. After all this temporary migration had been fully encouraged by the government.

Leave Fair Londoners we had been told. Take your holidays now and go. There's not enough room for you here during the Olympics.*

Some stayed in protest because they hate the Government. Some stayed because they couldn't afford to go on holiday because Government policies had rendered them poorer than before.

Some stayed because they love this city and wanted to witness this moment in history.

My husband is one of those people. The moment I stepped foot on English soil to begin our journey into matrimony, he intoned at me:

Wherever in the world we are in 2012, we have to be in London for the Olympics

He said that sentence so often that after a few years, all I heard was this:


In the week leading up to the Opening Ceremony, I realised that something was happening to London. She was gleaming. Scaffolding that had been up since the Pleistocene era parted to reveal brand new shiny structures. Pink signs appeared everywhere. Pink! The number of cultural events to attend quadrupled. London started to buzz and hum.

Pink is the official Olympic colour. Love it.
On July 27 I watched the Opening Ceremony with bated breath. Weeks ago the newsworthy Metro had leaked Danny Boyle's vision of a rural idyll with sheep and pastures. National cringe followed. That was what we were going to present the world with? Sheep?!

But as the proceedings unfolded, national cringe was replaced by delight. British irreverence and tongue in cheek trumped over stuffiness and ceremony. A snazzy choreographic mash up of Britain's contribution to childrens literature and the NHS was a joy to watch. Emeli Sande's elegaic delivery of Abide With Me matched Akram Khan's pared down ensemble to provide a quiet, powerful moment amidst the cacophony of the ceremony.

Emeli Sande performing Abide With Me

And the Queen. In her first ever "acting" role. You gotta love a Queen who'll take the piss out of herself.

Queenie arriving in flashy style

As the Games proceed, the Olympic jokes that were on the tip of London lips only a few weeks ago are now replaced by smiles.

And London?

London is beaming.