“That guy was wearing a onesie. A Union Jack onesie. Zipped all the way up the front.”
“Aw, that’s cute.”
“He was about 12.”
“Well, it is the Olympics, y’know. Anything goes.”
And indeed it does.
The past couple of years have been endearingly filled with overcast skies, light jackets, cups of tea and rolling green hills, into which I occasionally inserted some British nationalism at a level shocking to the natives.
But in the past couple of weeks, something pretty extraordinary happened.
Britain discovered the wonder of all-out patriotism … of the most dignified kind.
Despite the fact that London’s been working on the transportation system for a zillion months to be ready (see poster at the top), the rest of England kind of careened into the Olympics at the last minute. You see, we were all about celebrating the Queen up until June, after which there was Wimbledon, and then, right … now there’s the Olympics.
I heard someone say today that Olympics cities are usually either trying to gain status in the world or maintain that status … and London didn’t need to do either. (Fair enough.) So with that in mind, we all embarked on a mission of enjoying ourselves. A very British opening ceremony and an equally British closing ceremony.
And then we cheered for everybody.
All the tickets sold out, and while everyone went all out for Team Great Britain, the Korean who got thrown off of his horse at the Modern Pentathlon got just as much cheering. The Egyptian guy whom no one had heard of but also didn’t provide any drama got plenty of fanfare, too. I mean, why not?
(Running and pistol shooting? Sure.)
The Olympics are the most peaceful event on the planet. We don’t live or die by handball, but it’s in our backyard, so let’s watch everything and cheer for everybody … the Iranian canoe lady, the Kazakh horseman.
I love that.
A few more quick points of note:
1. “Summer” Olympics … or so they say.
I wore two coats.
2. The evidence of the bike race is still on the route I ride often. That’s fun.
It lends itself to some encouraging graffiti …
… and some hilarious graffiti …
… not to mention some cool landmarks.
(On Box Hill.)
3. I got to see Ryan Hall! Twice!
At the marathon! That was fun. But the bad news is … we were supposed to see him pass six times. When he didn’t show up the third, we found out he’d had to drop out with an injury. That was sad.
4. I learned the dignified silence of a stadium full of British spectators watching show jumping.
Never thought I’d be in a crowd of 50,000 at a sporting event and think, “Wow, I’m really crunching my ice cream bar too loudly.” It happened.
5. “The Games will last longer than you think.”
It’s possible the commuter crowd and the 70,000 volunteers who spent their days famously pepping and high fiving the crowds felt that way. But the reality is … it ended.
Like all good things this year, it closed epically … but it still closed. And now, on the heels of Britain’s year of stacked festivities, we’re all wondering what to do with our inflatable hands and ridiculous homemade hats … and slightly more expensive celebratory gear …