?

Log in

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Okay, so at the current rate I'll be lucky to get 2012 covered by the end of 2013. But I'm determined to do this thing.

What's more, this entry is going to be *massive*, so I'll do it behind a cut.



The London 2012 Olympics began. For a long time, I had looked forward to this, but in a nebulous way. I'm not particularly sporty, and don't watch a huge amount of sport on the telly. I do usually watch some of the Olympics, and had got quite into the Beijing Games in 2008, particularly when it appeared that GB were going to overtake Australia and reach third place in the medal table.

But I really wasn't ready for how much London 2012 would engage me, and ultimately give me so much joy.

As has been commented elsewhere, it felt like things got off to a slow start, but Wiggins' win on 1st August, which culminated with the bizarre spectacle of him sitting on a faux throne gave an intimation of the larger-than-life spectacles ahead.

There's no real point me recounting blow-by-blow all the fantastic moments of the Olympics - I have some memories of stuff a bit off the beaten track that stay with me: Peter Wilson falling to his knees after winning the gold in the shooting, Gemma Gibbons winning silver - one of the first tear-inducing moments, the steel drummer who always plays Bob Marley in Westminster tube playing Chariots of Fire instead, China playing China in the final of the table tennis and so on.

An awful lot of stuff about horses - horses dancing to Phil Collins, watching in silence hoping that bars wouldn't fall off fences jumped, my suggestion that the England football team might win future penalties if playing on horses and the disappointment that the horses didn't get to go on the podium when their riders received medals.

And a lot of rowing. One of my favourite moments was Sophie Hosking and Kat Copeland winning gold in the double sculls

hosking

After a pause as they looked at each other in disbelief, Copeland exclaimed "We've just won the Olympics! We're going to be on a stamp!"

And so it came to pass:

kat-copeland-and-sophie-hosking-stamp-282798525

I still well up a bit when I remember that moment. It was utterly joyous.

And that was the start of Super Saturday, the 4th August. We know all we need to know about Sutherland, Ennis and Farah's gold medals. My experience of seeing the events of that day, and being part of celebrating them, is my favourite memory of the Olympic experiences.

After watching the rowing, Becky and I wandered up to Farringdon for a lovely lunch, and a bit of a shop in Islington. We had dinner in Soho, and just as we left the restaurant we arrived in Piccadilly Circus to watch Jess Ennis win the gold on the big screen, surrounded by Londoners passing by, cars honking horns, a whirl of sound and colour, light and cheers and happiness. As we headed for the tube, we saw the jump that won Rutherford his gold.

We had gone to Hyde Park to watch some of the events on the massive screens put up there. We missed most of the action but arrived just in time to see Mo Farah win gold in the 10,000 m. I was surrounded by people shouting, screaming, singing, chanting - I'd never experienced anything like it watching any sport in my life. Certainly not athletics. I found out later that some people could hardly look as the race drew to a close. I remember feeling very calm, and utterly sure Farah would win. I had no doubt in my mind. I have no idea why - I'm no expert about athletics or sport psychology. I just knew he was going to win.

Last of all, as I put it on Facebook:
"And just when I thought it couldn't get any better, Saint Etienne came on stage and did a free gig. Love Team GB, love the Games, love my city. Goodnight all!"

Sarah Cracknell

I posted the picture to Twitter, and Saint Etienne re-tweeted it. I felt like that "which was nice" bloke off the Fast Show for a day.

The Olympics ended with what was, by all accounts, an overlong and disappointing closing ceremony. Which was fine by me, as I was in Hyde Park with one of my oldest mates, Rob Aherne, watching New Order, the Specials and Blur. My account of the day went like this on Twitter:

2012-08-12 13:39:05
Alasdair_CM: Going to see #blur! Excited!

2012-08-12 17:14:33
Alasdair_CM: New Order playing - ace version of 586, now on Perfect Kiss
#blur #neworder

2012-08-12 19:16:31
Alasdair_CM: Specials now. Immense. #blur #specials #london2012
2012-08-12 22:11:24

2012-08-12 21:28:10
Alasdair_CM: #blur #london2012 Lost for words... Incredible...

2012-08-12 22:11:24
Alasdair_CM: The Universal. I'm going... #blur #london2012


It's no wonder my descriptions were so sparse. It was all utterly overwhelming. Thousands and thousands of people (including Elliot, somewhere), some actual sunshine, huge end-of-Olympics high, and three of my favourite bands ever. And indeed, by the time it ended with The Universal I was crying - full of happiness, and full of memories stirred up by the music. A wonderful experience.

Red light

A lot of losses in August from the ridiculous:



The Rhodes Boysons in "Our Hour"

...to the sublime, as we lost both Sir Bernard Lovell and Neil Armstrong.

And to the ridculously sublime, with the demise of Sid Waddell: "They know the difference between mushy peas and guacamole round here. What a belterama of a beanfeast we're having!"

Not to mention Tony Scott, who directed two of my favourite action films - True Romance and Crimson Tide. Crimson Tide might actually be one of my favourite films ever - a near-perfect action film that plays on the claustrophobia of the submarine-based war film brilliantly, with some martial philosophy and a bit of dialogue-augmentation from Tarantino along the way.

Somewhere in among all this, ASA landed the Curiosity Rover on Mars. A month of wonders.

And small wonders for me, with days out in rare sunshine in Haselmere with Becky and flaneurette

Spotting

And Becky and I met whatsagirlgotta in Brighton

Bandstand

It was a good month for catching up with friends - at the beginning of it Bob K and I met with Indonesia's great white hunter, Simon Pitchforth, and Nick Chavasse, who I don't think I'd seen since about 1995.

Drinks with Elliot and rhodri introduced me to some fun new folks I now follow on Twitter, Miranda and I caught up with another ex-student of mine, Genevieve, for pizza and general good times on the South Bank, and Emma Burnell had an epic birthday party at hers with abundant karaoke.

Towards the middle of the month I headed off to see my friend Matt Davies, for what Miranda has dubbed "The annual Doctor Who mental". Becky joined us for some of it and was terribly patient. Highlights included The Androids of Tara, which I "live"tweeted (along with several others), an experience which amused me no end. I'm not sure what my handful of followers made of it.

Matt and I also nipped down to the Arnolfini on the Wednesday evening to meet Vikki, another friend I hadn't seen since 95, who now runs a rather lovely shop on Park Street.

Matt and I have been doing the "Doctor Who Mental" since 1996, and these days it's always held in Bristol. I love visiting Bristol, it's a city I find incredibly restful.

Bridge views

The month ended with Clint Eastwood engaging in a heated debate with a chair that thought it was Barack Obama

abe_eastwood

But before that, came the opening of the Paralympics. We had an opening ceremony which gave Danny Boyle's extravaganza for the Olympics a real run for its money - featuring the Large Hadron Collider, a whale, a massive telescope, the UN Declaration of Human Rights, Orbital and Stephen Hawking. And an Ian Dury sample. The impressionistic swathe of all that is great about modern Britain presented by Boyle was now plugged into a wider canvas of all that is great about the world. As Hawking put it, "There should be no boundaries in human endeavour."

AND HE WAS ON STAGE WITH ORBITAL, WEARING THE GLASSES:

hawking_orbital

I leave you with two great things brought to my attention during August. First, this funny and well-deserved review of Fifty Shades of Grey and last of all, this ethereal and charming track by Purity Ring:





Comments