Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The greatest show on earth - and we'll be there

I have a glut of posts that begin 'When we were trying to conceive...' for which I apologise. Here is another.

When we were trying to conceive I often thought about the London Olympics, now just weeks away. I would work out how old my baby would be in July 2012, if we conceived in any given month, and whether they would be old enough to understand the magnitude of the event, to recognise athletes, to play with a toy medal, to wonder at the nature of a competition that includes swirling ribbons around in rhythmic gymnastics and so on.

Turns out we were a bit late for that. Our daughter will be 19 months when it starts. We got her a pay your age ticket for the hockey so she'll be there, but whether she'll be engaged (whether we'll be engaged - it is hockey after all) who knows.

But I am thrilled that she will experience the London Olympics, that we will get photographs of her at the Olympic Park and have some souvenirs in her toy box. Because I am not one of the naysayers who is cynical about the event. You only have to look at the Olympic Park and its magnificent buildings, and walk around the adjacent shopping centre, to think wow, this used to be Stratford, the kind of place you had to suffix with the words 'East London' less anyone think you meant 'upon Avon', and now it's Stratford, the kind of place you can just say by itself and it can hold its head up high and say yes, look at me with my velodrome and aquatic centre and stadium, my destination shopping centre and comfortable cinema and casino for those that way inclined. Look at all the jobs I have created in building and retail. Look at the feats I will host, the speed, the agility, the strength. Look at the tears and beads of sweat. Oh, I'm getting carried away... but you would too if you had grown up a stone's throw away, if you associated Stratford with the 69 bus, if your school theatre trips were to the Theatre Royal Stratford East.

I love that Stratford no longer hides away in East London, letting its 'cooler' neighbours of Mile End and Stepney take the limelight. Now Stratford proudly says 'I am here'. And my daughter, though she may not remember it, will be able to look back on London 2012 and say 'I was there'. I'm so pleased we managed to make her in time.


  1. Just saw you linked to on the twitter feed on Mumsnet. You must be very local to me!
    I love people being enthusiastic about the Olympics, and am very sick of the naysayers. I firmly believe it will be fabulous.

  2. Can't wait to take Miss 3 and Miss 6 to the Athletics in the Olympic Stadium... And then the paralympics!
    My Dad, age 25, was at the Melbourne games in 1952, the rest of the family at Sydney 2000. As hesitant as I am about the cost of the games (and the dubious mascots) it's an event the likes of which they are unlikely ever to see again. Even a walk around the Olympic Park during the games will be an amazing experience - and free!
    And, if you ever need a table icebreaker at a function - the question "how many Olympic host cities have you been to?" is a great one - with plenty of debate! (I had done 13 Summer games cities at last count....)