It’s here. Both the big day and the torch, taking a last leg that included Hampton Court Maze and sailing down the Thames in a spectacular flotilla. I just hope the opening ceremony is as classy as that!
Today I’m going to celebrate the torch relay itself and the games to come. It seems a million years ago that it was cold and damp and the torch was wending a wet way through the country:
One of the things which has made me proud of my country is that the torch bearers have been such a varied bunch – young, old, able bodied and disabled, many of them chosen because of things they’ve done to serve the community. The guy in the second pic is a Paralympic triathlete. And, hopefully, the Paralympics will be just as big a thing over here as the Olympics themselves.
There have been lots of things going on to mark today including, at 08.12 this morning, three minutes of bell ringing all over the country, including Big Ben (which is the bell not the clock so not technically visible here. I was out in my front garden, rining some sleighbells we’d found in the Christmas box. Alas, I think I was the only person in Rownhams doing it…
So now to the games. I’m not sure which sport I’m most looking forward to (so many to choose from) although this is a fairly big clue. Thighs and lycra.
And I can’t leave without a mention of a story I’m really proud of, which takes place partly within Olympic Park itself, Tumble Turn. It’s set in the run up to and during the Paralympics (with me hoping like hell as I wrote it months back that I’d predicted all the details correctly!) and concerns Ben Edwards, a chunky S9 swimmer who might just be based on some of the hunky S9/S10 swimmers I’ve seen down the years.
Fate’s a cruel mistress. Or master. Or something. I got to my seat-eventually, after battling through crowds and then signing autographs for some real swimming fanatics-and I was settling in when something slapped the back of my head.
“Ben!” It was Matty, of course, looking pleased as punch and plonking his backside in the seat behind mine and two to the left. “That’s a stroke of luck. I’d forgotten I hadn’t got your number on my new phone.”
That made me even more angry. Matty pulling the “long lost friend” thing on me when he hadn’t bothered to keep my number. I scowled at him, and at the weasely looking bloke sitting to the left of him, who was evidently the ghastly Nick and every bit as horrible as I’d imagined him. There was another bump to my head and I spun round one hundred and eighty degrees, about to give some clumsy sod a mouthful. There was gorgeous-guy-withthe- coffees smiling at me and being terribly apologetic.
“Sorry, did I thump you?” He smiled, revealing the sort of set of lovely teeth that would have been all the better to eat me with, if I’d been lucky. “My fault. I’ve always been clumsy. I think it’s dyspraxia but Jenny just says I’m a prat. With dys-prat-sia.” He grinned.
This horrible hot flush-remember my habit of blushing?- started to clamber up the back of my neck, which is hardly my best look given that there’s more than a trace of ginger in my hair.
I managed to stammer something like, “No worries,” although I could have been spouting gibberish, for all that I was aware. All I could think of was that I’d nearly gone and cocked everything up with my, “Ring me but I won’t answer the phone” ruse. At least fate had saved me, and redeemed itself at the same time.
Unless I was buggering things up again by making an assumption too many, this must have been Jenny’s brother, and he wasn’t the spotty nerd I’d expected.
“I’m Nick.” This gorgeous vision of tall, dark handsomeness stuck out his hand. “You must be Ben.”
“Yeah, that’s right.” I managed to shake his hand without shaking too much myself. Sometimes I get a bit clumsy if I’m overexcited.
“We saw you on the telly-Paralympic World Cup, earlier this year. You won.”
“You don’t half state the bleeding obvious,” Matty chipped in, grinning. “I suspect Ben remembers that for himself.”
“Just a little.” I was hoping the red flush was starting to subside.
“Matty was so proud of you. Kept pointing at the screen and saying that was his best mate from school days. He started to cry when you won.” Nick rolled his eyes. “Great Jessy.”
I was starting to well up, too. Maybe Matty had redeemed himself a bit. “We said we’d be here, being a part of it. Even back when we were horrible, spotty schoolboys, we knew we’d have to
make London 2012 happen.”
Photos thanks to Bigfoto and me!