London 2012 – a city celebrates
Being a Londoner, in London, when the Olympics rocked up on our doorstep and the focus of the world followed suit, has been an incredible experience which I wouldn’t have missed for the world. London has changed. Yes, Big Ben still chimes where it always did, and the London Eye still turns steadily next to the mighty River Thames. But during the two weeks of the olympics, the spirit of London underwent a tangible transformation. It was like being at school when a special holiday was being celebrated – the school was the same, but being their felt different, exciting. Similarly, being in London during the games has felt incredibly exciting, thrilling and the source of utmost pride.
Of course if you were a “Games Maker” or attended the huge olympic park, the excitement would, undoubtedly, have been explosive, breathable, physically all-encompassing. But for those of us, like me, who had to work during the games, and who, like many others, were unable to get tickets to the grand olympic park over in Stratford, the changing mood of the city was still unmistakably discernible. On the tube, people did not rush on with stern moody faces, pushing past each other, losing all semblance of civility. Rather, they would walk around with smiles, reading excitedly about the latest gold medal rush in the papers, and listening enthusiastically to the plethora of foreign languages which could be heard all around. On the streets, the feeling of British patriotism has reached an all time high, but mixes convivially with the respective national pride which is evident in those millions of foreign visitors who have descended upon our city from all over the world. Along the River Thames, the many bridges have been illuminated to spectacular effect, and all along the southbank, a brilliant cultural olympiad has celebrated the arts as well as sport. On TV and in the press, journalists have run out of superlatives to describe these games. Well organised, welcoming, record-breaking, fantastically attended. It’s been brilliant, amazing, a life-changing experience, a moment of insuperable national pride.
Like the end of any summer holiday, the climax of the Olympics tonight will be a sad moment for us all. Going back to work, as the olympic flags come down and the city returns to normal, will be tinged with an inexorable feeling of depression. But through it all, the memories live on, and London, as a city, will continue to thrive in the spirit of goodwill and international recognition. More than anything the olympics have made us Londoners proud of our city, which has so much to offer, so much going on, incredible sites and wonderful facilities. For these reasons, people will continue to visit us, long after the olympic spotlight has passed, and for those of us living here, a new inbuilt respect and admiration for our city has been created, an optimism for the future, and a celebration of the past.
The photos I enclose with this post are not really sports-related. Trying to get hold of tickets was like a search for the holy grail. Consequently my photos are confined to the small changes I have witnessed while carrying on my normal London life – rings on Tower Bridge, banners on the lamp posts, and those cute little mascots springing up all over the city. Enjoy!
© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
- The Daily Sketch London 2012 – Final voyage of the Olympic Torch (normsonline.wordpress.com)
- The Daily Sketch London 2012 – 100 metres at the Athletics Stadium (normsonline.wordpress.com)
- The Daily Sketch London 2012 – Norms at the Olympic Park (normsonline.wordpress.com)
- The Daily Sketch London 2012 – Normington v El Normo at Wimbledon (normsonline.wordpress.com)
- London 2012: Infected by Olympic Fever – Tennis at Wimbledon (normsonline.wordpress.com)
How cool! I am so thankful for the blogosphere so I can see the Olympics through the eyes of wonderful people like you. I love how this event brings countries together. In all honesty, I wish the Olympics were coming to America soon. We are a country divided. We are bickering amongst each other and our Presidential election is only making it worse. We need something to unite us and although our success in the Olympics as done that, it is not to the degree that we need.
I must say as someone on the outside looking in, it does appear that London has done a brilliant job as hosts. London should be proud! And thank you for sharing your unique point of view with us.
Hey thanks for the really insightful comment – it’s true, we are so lucky to have had this event to bring the city together – just look at London one year ago: we had street riots which hit the headlines all over the world, and London seemed torn apart. Now after the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics, London feels like it’s the centre of the world, and utterly united. I just hope it lasts – the cynics will always shine through though! Your political situation in the US is certainly interesting and is often in the headlines over here – I have no idea who will win the election this time round, as quite a few people seem pretty disenfranchised with Obama, but I hope that whatever the outcome, people feel more lifted. If not, you’ll have to head down to Rio in 4 years time to capture the olympic spirit there! Thanks again.
That sounds wonderful! Maybe the environment will be a little bit different even after the Olympics are completed, just because they were there.