Had a troll down the Olympics

Edit: Well this took way too long to get finished and posted, eh? At least I managed it before the Paralympics started XD

I’d taken the day off work, and spent the whole day wandering around London taking in the Olympic atmosphere. And what a great atmosphere it was, too. Apart from that in some of the older, badly-ventilated underground trains, they were ovens! Still could have been worse, it could have rained. The very first thing I did was go down Wembley and pick up my ticket from the box office. There wasn’t many people around at that point, and no qeues at all. The stadium is well decorated for the Olympics, though I suppose it can afford to be. Unlike the other football stadiums it doesn’t “belong” to a particular team.

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There’s also a statue of one of our footballing greats, who helped to win the World Cup on this very site.

I’d been intending to go down the Japan Centre and get a Japanese flag, assuming they would be selling them. But there was also a flag seller on site, and on a whim I got one from there. Also under the bridge at the far end of Wembley Way there was a “soundscape” with clips from the opening ceremony of the 1948 Olympics. Let’s have a DVD of that too, eh BBC? If the recordings haven’t been taped over anyway.

Anyway, I was lucky I got a flag at the stadium, because the Japan Centre didn’t have any! They didn’t have “kamikaze” headbands either. I just got a bottle of tea and some sushi and seaweed. I then wandered around the streets looking for an unused concrete bench that I could sit on to “modify” the flag with “Good luck Japan” and “On yer bike, America!”. In the end I had to use a smelly fire exit in a backstreet near Picadilly Circus. Still the streets looked nice, with all the flags up.

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After that, I decided to go to the Olympic Park, in the hope of watching some events on the big screens that were inevitably scattered around it. Instead of going to the main station for it, Stratford, I went to West Ham and took the about-a-mile “Green road” walk. I passed this interesting, ornate building:


Which I didn’t take a proper photo of, but you get the idea

No doubt foreign spectators, and a few athletes, wondered what it is. Well it’s actually a pumping station, for sewage! And also my great-grandfather worked there. They used to live right next door to it in the 30’s and early 40’s (my granny was later evacuated, then worked as a nurse in the WAAF). Granny also says people used to come and dump unwanted cats there, and her dad would bring them home XD.

I also got a vada of a bit of the athletes’ village, with surprisngly few flags. There was also a skyscraper attached to one of the blocks, which didn’t appear to be finished! Perhaps that’s in preparation for the buildings being sold off after the games. Considering they are apartments right in the middle of London, with fantastic transport links and some of the best sports facilities in the world literally next door, they are likely to go a long way towards paying for the cost of the games.

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Then the walk went over a bridge, possibly over the river that David Beckham sailed down at the end of the opening ceremony. I got a good view of the main stadium and the, er, red thing.

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I’d just assumed that “anybody with tickets” could get into the Olympic park, but I decided to check only once I was almost there did I decide to ask somebody. Having been told I couldn’t get in with a Wembley ticket, I decided to wander back into central London. I took a DLR train from the “Stratford Town Centre”, which fortunately wasn’t all that busy. I also saw a forlorn, abandoned jazz club. Couldn’t some lottery grant have restored this to retro-styled operation for the Olympics?

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I ended up at London Bridge station, which I’d completely forgotten was right near the Shard.


Seen starting it’s transformation sequence

Still, up-close it actually looks a bit crap, like an old greenhouse. They’ve also not finished part of the bottom XD.

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Still, it does appear to be resting on Victorian brickwork

After a bit of a wander around, most of which was spent looking for a Lynx Bullet mini-deodorant (like I said, hot trains!), I found a big screen! It was right near Tower Bridge, so I stayed there and watched Jade Jones get through to the Taekwondo final (which she won!). I also watched the award of the first ever women’s boxing gold medal, to Nichola Adams, a Briton who will never be forgotten!

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Oh yeah, also nearby there was a war museum, with my favourite propaganda poster reproduced on the outside:


Though that one with stylised Hitler faces on wallpaper is also funny.

There was also the flag of a country that has, for various reasons, never actually competed at a London Olympics:


Anwyay, after watching the big screen for a while, it was time to stroll over Wembley. I took the grey line, which was a bit of a mistake. It still used old trains with seperated carriages, and had lots of stops, at which ever more passengers crammed aboard. It was very hot! I got to Wembley Park again, to find it crammed full of people this time, most of them waving American flags XD. Still there was some Japanese people in kimono who seemed surprised to see me with their own flag. I began to walk towards the stadium, the big pathway now full of people, with lots of groups of Americans chanting U.S.A! U.S.A! There was a few Japanese supporters crowded around a big flag though. I ought to have learned that famous, intimidating Japanese propaganda march and got them singing it:


I got a little bit confused about where exactly I was supposed to go, the ticket mentioned a “block” of seating, so I supposed they all had seperate entrances. But I ended up going in the main entrance anyway, then walking almost all the way around inside the building. Or as one security guard told me, “It’s quicker to go across the pitch” XD. There was also a display cabinet containing the Olympic flag from the 1948 games, which was rather small and had the rings just painted on. Rationing was still in full force back then… in fact, teams had to bring their own food, as there wasn’t enough in Britain to go round!

After finding my “block” I saw I was in the middle of a bunch of Japanese people… but then realised I’d gone the wrong way, and was actually on my own, to begin with.

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But then I started to get surrounded by Americans XD. Though from the pictures I’ve taken it actually looks like there’s more Japanese people around me, but there wasn’t. The actual numbers of supporters was probably about even, though. Though Americans are much louder, of course. Oh and there was also one of those big flag things that’s supposed to be passed along over the crowd, which didn’t quite work.


After some equally failed Mexican waves, the teams came out and the game got under way!

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The match didn’t start well as the USA got a goal almost straight away! After that there was a bit of a see-saw battle, with both teams missing a few shots. The US goalkeeper certainly worked harder, though! A lot of their own shots were well wide. At half time (I think, it was a long time ago now >.<) they announced that the attendance was a “record” of 80,306! Which considering Wembley holds 90,000 and this was Olympic Women’s football, is pretty amazing. Though I didn’t catch whether that was a British (sounds realistic) or World (less likely but possible) record.

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The USA got another goal not long after the kickoff, but then Japan got one back about 10 minutes later, so at least I got to shout BANZAI! There was plenty more good shots that were saved, this time both goalkeepers had to earn their pay. There was also a few free kicks given towards the end. Oh also the ref managed to do some stylish ball-avoidance. A certain Ugandan could learn something from her.

Having watched football on TV, I knew that the PA would call out how much extra time there was. However the clock had vanished from the big screen (they were just showing the BBC coverage silently XD)  so I didn’t know how long there was left. I could hear yanks around me going  “call it!” just as there was a tussle in the box, the whistle went and I thought she was giving a penalty, but actually it was full-time!

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I learned from people at work, who had watched it on TV, that actually Japan ought to have had a penalty, because the USA hand-balled in the box. But in a way I’m glad they didn’t, because it would have gone to extra time. I got the second-last train back to Cambridge as it was XD. Anyway, I hung around for the medal ceremony, a comically large podium was assembled for the entire teams to stand on:

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With some soldiers, because of the infamous G4S “oh wait, you said twenty thousand, not twenty?” screwup.

The teams then came out, including Canada who had won the bronze medal earlier that day in Coventry (right next door to a friend of mine, in fact, who was complaining about constant police helicopter activity). Just how many English people were in the audience was revealed when a huge BOOOO went up when they said Sepp Blatter would be presenting the medals. To the comical confusion of the Americans and Japanese, who had just been cheering every name that was mentioned XD.

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After that it was time to leave, to find the road to the station utterly crammed and stationary. As I got a bit further down it turned out there was police horses blocking it, to stagger the number of people going into the station. I also saw a cock-a-knee woman wearing a kimono with Japanese flags on her face, Glad I wasn’t the only British Japan supporter XD. I waffled something to her about Americans wasting good tea, she just seemed confused XD.


On the way back into the centre, I got the burgundyish line, which has wide, large, upgraded trains with “connected” carriages, making the whole train into one long mobile corridor (like the Tokyo JR and Subway). This was much nicer, and air conditioned too (it was still really hot). Some Japanese people got confused at the あなたの自転車上、アメリカ!writing on my flag XD. I finally reached Kings Cross, and saw one train going to Cambridge that was absolutely rammed. But the driver said there was another going from a different platform that would get there only 5 minutes later. I got a whole 4-seat block to myself XD. Opposite some yanks saying that their opinion of the Japanese performance was “Raugh out Roud”.

After that journey I got back into Cambridge, where my dad had to pick me up from (livin’ the dream). Finally got into bed at half 2 in the morning, to get up at 6:00 for work the next day, hooray.

And tonight I’m going to finish this blog, a comic blog entry (or two), and entries in my paper blog too. Ought to keep me up til maybe half midnight, which ought to be no trouble!

I’m going to the fuckin’ Olympics!


Pictured: The fuckin’ Olympics

With Olympic fever gripping the nation, and news of the not-going-to-be-used sponsor’s tickets being “confiscated” and sold to members of the public who can actually be arsed to show up, I thought I’d have a go at buying some. I was also inspired by watching the 100m final, and the incredible atmosphere and jubilation of Usain Bolt’s lap of honour. Soo I looked into it, and made a purchase… I’m not going to the Olympic Stadium, though, but Wembley, to see these ladies:


Who are currently the Women’s World Cup holders, and who are going to SMASH the Yanks in the final! Can’t wait! I’m gonna have the whole day off and troll around the Olympic park, watching events on the big screens. Gonna go down the Japan Centre to get a Japanese flag and “kamikaze” headband too. It’d be nice to go to an event in the proper stadium, and see the flame, but I spent ‘a bit’ on the tickets for this match, and will have to save every penny. Especially if my holiday in Japan does convince me to go and work as a language monkey.

Mind you, Tokyo is a candidate city for the 2020 Olympics – and how could they not be held in Japan? Great sailing, loads of huge arenas (the Tokyo Big Sight deals with Comiket twice a year, and that has millions through the doors – the guys there know their stuff), massive investment in sport (Japan’s elementary schools have facilities baseball and small football teams in Britain would kill for) and, of course, the best public transport in the world. Want a “green games”? Driving in Tokyo is fucking insane – at the city centre events damn near 100% of the spectators will come on trains.

Of course, If I do move to Japan, it’ll have to be forever, and so I’d have to become a naturalised citizen. I could potentially manage that by 2020 – and would have a second Olympics “on my doorstep” in the space of 8 years! Make it happen, IOC! I wanna watch Japan’s women get golden football medals more than once!


The Olympics are great, aren’t they?


He’s already got the knighthood, what the hell are we going to give him now?

It’s brilliant when the Olympics are on, especially when they are “at home”. Every radio, TV and computer you pass has some event playing on it. You can linger and discuss the chances of teams. It’s always a conversation starter, “did you see the tennis final?” and so on. It really brings people of all nations together, especially in a cosmopolitan place like my work, and Cambridge in general. People talking about the respective merits of their country’s athletes, and what sports their country is strong at (Ethiopians for distance running, tier “high altitude training” is their lives XD).


It’s also a chance for more obscure sports to shine. Back in the good old days you had Grandstand on TV every week, showing the highlights from all kinds of sports – equestrian, shooting, diving, swimming… These days if you want to see them you have to pay for satellite and watch obscure channels, or else wait for the Olympics! At least in the Olympics the very best athletes are competing, sports you normally don’t give a crap about, like Basketball, become must-see events with nailbiting knockout rounds. It’s like the World or European cup on an immeasurably bigger scale, and for people who don’t like football, too!


Of course, the Olympics do have their detractors – the fucking reds. It’s hilariously ironic that this great event, which gets everybody talking about the same subject, causes people to walk with a spring in their step and which sparks off friendly conversations between people of all different nationalities is anathema to the Marx-lovers. They are always banging on about “uniting the people”, yet when something actually does all they can do is complain about “flag waving”, lament all the speed cameras and wet hostels the money could have been spent on, and start calling sport “simulated war”. They are out of touch, their ideology is a discredited anachronism. They have no answers.


I’ve not watched the opening ceremony yet, but by all accounts it was brilliant. Sensible people said it was brilliant, and reds said that it was a farce, a waste of money and that the tribute to the NHS was pathetic. One red of my acquaintance even went as far as saying that, instead of the NHS, they should have used something that “the British people are proud of”. Hilariously out of touch. A yank red then went on to say that a tribute to the NHS implied that Britain was the only country with ‘socialized medicare’. Hilariously out of touch. With recommendations like that, I can’t wait to iplayer it… as soon as I’ve finished backlogged blog entries, comic-making and sorting out my comic/book/horror film collection (again! more on that when it’s done).


Oh yeah, I still have plenty of actual sport to iplayer too. I watched the women’s 56kg weightlifting, and very good it was too. The German competitor was hilarious, she screamed as she lifted, then people started screaming back, so she played up to it XD. She couldn’t manage to lift her heaviest weight either, but took defeat in good grace. Oh and of course our own Zoe Smith set a new British record at only 18, one to watch in 2016! The other day I was lifting 25kg bags of dishwasher salt one at a time, staggering about with them, feeling like my arms were being ripped out. Puts things in perspective! I also started watching the lighter weight women’s weightlifting, because the eventual winner looked cwute. I also want to watch the women’s 10m air rifle, the first event for which a medal was awarded. And after that, I’ll catch up on the events of day 2… XD. I hope the BBC keeps their catchups online for a long time, or else releases a DVD box set.


One thing I wondered, though, is where the hell Rugby is? And Cricket… though there is an international competition going on at the moment. Mind you though, if you had Rugby you could make a case for American Football, which only the cheeseburger chuggers give a shit about, so they’d win it all the time. And if you had cricket, why not baseball, which only the cheeseburger chuggers and, er, sushi snackers(?) give a shit about, so they’d win it all the time.


But didn’t Olympics used to have “exhibition sports”? One ‘unique’ to the host country that other nationalities were welcomed to try? Surely for Britain Rugby or Cricket would have been ideal! Or, if not those, how about a knockout tournament of rowing eights on the Oxford / Cambridge course? I can understand them having the ‘proper’ races on a ‘fairer’ rectangular lake, but ‘not serious’ races on the Thames would give millions upon millions of people a chance to watch at least one event for free (the course goes for bloody miles). And of course how more “London” can you get than constant racing on the Thames for the duration of the games? Terrible missed opportunity, that.

Had the Mini out the other weekend


Fucking hell, ever since booking my holiday to Japan all I’ve done is stare at the internet, looking at places to visit in Kyoto (in all of the two days I’ll be there), for weeks on end. Anyway, when I wasn’t doing that, me and dad had my Mini out, as we had to move it from the drive to the side of the house. It’s needed the waxoyl on the underside “topping up” since 2006, and we kept saying we’d do it “in the summer”. Also since finishing Uni I decided I’d get it out “in the summer”, but that never happened either.



Anyway, we got the cover off, for the first time since possibly 2009, and discovered that it was still pretty shiny and had not rusted away, woohoo. A few insects had also got under there and long since perished. We then attempted to start it, using a knackered old battery. After several tries I remembered that it was built as a racer, and so has an electrical cut off. With the key put in that it still refused to start, though did make clicking noises.


Less than no frills. Also using the heater pumps carbon monoxide into the cabin, which isn’t good.

After jump-starts, and a lot of faffing about, it finally ran… sort of. The engine was running at very high revs, but would still cut out if I didn’t keep my foot slightly down. Dad adjusted the carbs, and then it ran at high revs even when I wasn’t touching the pedal. Oh well, we can fix it properly next summer, when I’ll really drive it (or will have moved to Japan and need to sell it).


Anyway, at one stage in the adjustments it conked out completely and wouldn’t start. I suggested it may have run out of petrol, as it was running at such high revs. Dad put some more in, and that did the trick. After moving it, though, we found some animal had made a nest of leaves (with a small entrance, and burrow into the gravel) under the sump guard. This was empty, but damp. We moved the leaves and discovered the burrow was filled with petrol, there was also a trail halfway around the side of the house. So basically i’d been sitting in a bare metal container, on top of a huge fireball waiting to happen, starting and re-starting electrical ignition systems.


Those lights do actually work, though I preferred covering them up, but one of the covers has now perished 🙁

Anyway, whichever weekend this was (can’t even remember now) was at the start of one of the few sunny periods of this summer, so for a week or two afterwards we got a strong whiff of petrol whenever we opened the front door. But it was finally washed away by the recent rain. A match might have got rid of it sooner, mind you.


Also the exhaust was a bit sooty.