So, how do you really feel about the Olympics? To be honest, I’ve been a bit bah-humbug about the whole thing ever since London won the bid. And I’m not alone. There’s even been a snipey series on TV about the imaginary behind-the-scenes shenanigans and decisions-by-committee disasters.
We’re all so collectively brilliant at Brit-bashing, aren’t we. It’s going to rain and then rain some more and we’ll come last and it’ll all be RUBBISH. And they haven’t included Beckham in the GB team. Shame on them.
These are just a couple of the opening gambits in many of the repeat conversations I’ve had with cabbies and other fellow non-ticketees about the inevitable failings of our 2012 efforts. I’ve talked myself into a huge cynical sulk about how – even if I could have been bothered – I’d have had to get up at 4 a.m. to log onto the unfathomable Olympic website having re-mortgaged the house in order to be able to afford tickets to see anything remotely decent.
I have secretly poured scorn on the fluky friends who got cheap opening ceremony tickets, the smug ones who’ve bagged the cycling, rowing and horse-riding, and the downright rich ones who will be at the athletics final.
But it doesn’t matter that I haven’t got tickets because I’d rather eat my own head than battle through the massive crowds and pushy A-types not observing queue rules. Besides, they’ll have had no time to do a Jamie or a Gordon make-over on the food, so the hotdogs will be inedible and the water eye-poppingly expensive. And quite frankly, you get a much better view on the tele.
Oh yeah, and that’s all before the traffic conversation, which we’ve all had. Have you tried to drive around London recently? I mean, what have they DONE to the traffic lights? OMG! Don’t get the cabbies started on that one.
But suddenly, the Olympics are upon us and my eight year-old wants to go to Stratford anyway and see if someone will ‘give’ us tickets on the gate. Like we might be the benefactors of some sort of Charlie and the Chocolate factory golden ticket scenario. Because she’s clocked that her mother is too poor – slash – too lazy to have got tickets for the once-in-a-lifetime event happening on her doorstep.
This isn’t just hype from watching too many adverts. No. This is genuine childlike excitement. She’s collecting cards and playing Olympic top trumps and learning facts about our brave Paralympics athletes and Oscar Pistorias. I even caught her and her little sister in the bath doing impressions of Rebecca Adlington, our swimming hopeful coming up for air having won gold.
And I have to admit the kids’ enthusiasm has broken me. Because now I’ve started to remember being a kid myself and watching the 1984 LA Olympics Opening Ceremony and all those white grand pianos playing Rhapsody In Blue and it was the most spectacular thing I’d ever seen. And how I fell a little bit in love with Daley Thompson, our Decathlete champ, when he did his victory flip on the matt.
So now, despite myself, I’m starting to get excited about the hours of justifiable TV watching and the prospect of getting overly-competitive from the sofa about completely random sports whose rules will remain a mystery, but for a fortnight I will be an expert on.
I’m even a bit sad that I’m not going to the Olympic village, although I will be popping along to see the Torch when it’s in our neck of the woods next week. With all the bunting left over from the Jubilee, hosting an Olympics barbeque doesn’t seem like such a bad idea all of a sudden. I shall even put our home-made Good Luck Team GB poster in the window. Because, you know, even though it might rain, when we’re not slagging ourselves off, we Brits are pretty good at organizing things. Which means that there’s always an outside chance that London 2012 will be epic.