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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
I ended up at London Bridge station, which I’d completely forgotten was right near the Shard.
Still, up-close it actually looks a bit crap, like an old greenhouse. They’ve also not finished part of the bottom XD.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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:
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.
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!