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Blog: An Inadvertent Wonderful Parade

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Last night The Flames In My Fire and I met up 'neath The Gigantic Freddie Of Tottenham Court Road after work and headed off to see if we could see the Olympic Torch Parade on its final stages through old London town. It's been NEAR our house several times (and will be VERY NEAR INDEED for the next fortnight) but we'd not got round to having a look, and as it was going to be so near to our works it seemed rude not to.

The Torch Parade has been one of my absolute FAVOURITE aspects of the whole Olympics Business - living in East London over the past 7 years we've seen a LOT of changes, and also WORKING in Central London has meant I've been getting VERY excited about it all of late, what with all the Olympic STUFF going up and SIGNS and LANYARDS. Added to this is the small fact that my colleague Mr Steven Hewitt is going to be IN THE OPENING CEREMONY this evening and... well, let's just say I am more of the "OOH! OLYMPICS!" camp than the "Let's moan about it FOREVER" lot.

So I've LOVED the fact that the Torch Parade has been such an unexpected DELIGHT. There's something marvellously Properly British about the odd mixture of Sporting Greats, Local Heroes and Occasional Celebrities involved that I find rather lovely, and I've been moved MANY times when hearing some of the stories of people carrying it. I've heard from several people who saw it before me who spoke of a SUDDEN EXCITEMENT about the Olympics when they've seen it go past, finding themselves unexpectedly MOVED by it all. I was ALREADY excited, but was looking forward to it anyway!

We arrived on Charring Cross Road to find crowds ALL down the road, and ended up shuffling along with a bunch of other people as a side-road was closed off and extra standing room came available. We were stood with people of all shapes, sizes and varieties enjoying the occasional REMARKS that were made, standing on tip toes for signs of the procession. I'd read about the Coca Cola bus so when it came i was ready to be ANGERED by THE COMMERCIALISM, but actually it was just a bit daft. It was crammed with people GYRATING going "Yeah! Come on... er... [*checks signage*] Charring Cross Road! Give it up!" and so forth, and the crowd mostly looked BEMUSED. Similarly the SAMSUNG bus, which had an inaudible film of David Beckham on the side and CHEERLEADERS on top. It was such a nice day and everyone was in such a good mood that these passed by with everyone sort of waving politely, and when the much more modest Lloyds TSB came along we smiled benignly at it, as it was basically just an old VAN with some people inside, none of whom were dancing.

Then there was a small wait, occasionally filled with police (who we waved at) or a busload of previous relayers (who we waved at) or the occasional grey glad Olympic Bouncer (who we waved at), then all of a sudden there was a ripple of arms reaching for the sky, and everyone got their phones ready to take a picture. THE TORCH WAS COMING!

A middle-aged man with a HUGE GRIN all over his face jogged past, holding a torch. A couple of people were around him, but that was about it.

After all the hoo-hah and NONSENSE it could have felt anti-climactic, but instead it was sort of NICE. Like the Olympics itself, it had been dressed up with corporate money and razzmatazz, but at the very centre of it all was just one person having the time of his life jogging along the road.

I was just about to REMARK upon this when something rather WONDERFUL happened. Another Olympics bus came by, followed by about a HUNDRED CYCLISTS. I guess they had all been told they had to wait until the procession had gone by, became grouped up waiting, and then formed an inadvertent GRAND FINALE to the whole affair! It was beautiful - THEY were all grinning, slightly sheepishly, realising what was happening, unable to get out of it, but actually starting to rather enjoy it. We cheered and waved at them, they waved back, and it was finally over, with everyone going home for tea.

And if THAT isn't the perfect metaphor for the perfect Olympics, then my dears I don't know what is!

posted 27/7/2012 by MJ Hibbett

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