In July 2005 I was deeply emotional after giving birth to my first child, and remember so well the razzmatazz and tears of joy when London ‘won’ the event… and the horror and tears of grief when London was subsequently targeted by suicide bombers. The two events are inextricably linked in my mind, and I suppose that connection is what has tainted my attitude.
As the Olympics get nearer, I still find it hard to feel enthusiastic, despite all the hoo-ha and hype, the strangely deformed-looking Mascots, the clunky childish logos, the over-priced merchandise and frankly bizarre sponsorship deals (Pampers? really?) Coming from a family who viewed sporting endeavour as something that got your pocket-money docked, I have never been able to get enthused about watching other people play games. And in the depths of this hideous recession, all I think about when I see pictures of the new Olympic venues is… Oh God, all that money! Living so far away from London, the claim that the money is regenerating run-down areas and providing jobs and tourism income seems rather hollow… I can’t see the direct benefits for anyone who’s not on the gravy-train.
I do hope I’ll get caught up in the excitement once the competition gets underway; watching the very best athletes compete at the highest level should always be a privilege. Watching the Olympic torch procession at Seale-Hayne last weekend did make me feel a tiny spark of (carefully stage-managed) inclusion, a little thrill at being part of something encompassing the nation… and maybe the Jubilee celebrations next weekend will bring out my latent patriotism and get me fired up.
And this man with his flamin’ head? Well, that’s the closest I came to seeing the genuine Olympic Flame (and it seems quite apt; after all, it is the Feast of Pentecost today….)