“Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down” – Talking Heads ‘Once in a lifetime’
Yesterday was one of those once in a lifetime moments. The London 2012 Olympics is shortly upon us and so leading up to it there is the ubiquitous ‘Carrying of the Flame’.
Yesterday the moment came upon me, in my lifetime I don’t believe I will get another chance to see the Olympic Flame carried past me – particularly less than half a mile from my own front door.
It wasn’t the best weather to view the event – in fact it was probably some of the worst type in that it was Thundering and Lightning and absolutely teeming down with rain. While the day was going by the water was trying its best to hold down the audiences’ spirits but wasn’t succeeding one bit.
Having said that I am conscious that under normal circumstances water and flames don’t mix particularly well and so it was with some trepidation I braved the elements (alongside many hundreds / thousands of others) as I was fully aware the flame had already been extinguished once on it’s UK journey and had to be re-lit by the ‘pilot’ flame carried on a back-up vehicle (I have no idea how they get round the Health and Safety implications of that one – possibly some type of Davy Lamp set up ?).
Anyway the moment was nearly upon us and we watched patiently as the convoy approached. Leading the way were about a dozen Motorcycle Outriders from the Metropolitan (London) Police force who were quite obviously miles from home and appeared just along for the ride – god knows how much overtime was being paid out by the taxpayer for this one. (yeah I know Bah Humbug moment !)
This cavalcade was followed by numerous vans and buses carrying people and I guess equipment needed for such an event plus there were also a few sponsors’ vehicles. This produced another once in a lifetime moment as based on the current drug issues the inner city is suffering from I don’t think I will ever again hear the words “Free Coke” shouted out into the eager crowds whilst half of Nottinghamshire Constabulary looked on without so much as a raised eyebrow.
What confused me though was the very large number of Police Cars – not that Police Cars were unexpected but every other was designated ARV1..then ARV2 etc etc. I wondered at first what it stood for but as one slowed down in front of me all became clear – Three very heavily armed Police officers were sat in each vehicle (ARV being Armed Response Vehicle).
Now I know Nottinghamshire hasn’t had the best reputation in the world for Law Abiding Citizens but personally I believe that the authorities were taking the legend of Robin Hood just a little too far. I mean who would want an Olympic Flame especially a second hand stolen one – not as if you could place it un-noticed on eBay and just think of the damage an open flame would do if placed near the Major Oak in the Centre of Sherwood Forest.
And then to cap it all came ‘our’ Torch Bearer. Now these in the main were chosen from the general public and as such they didn’t have to be the most athletic of beings however I think ‘ours’ lied on her application form about her prowess.
The bearers nominally carry the flame for about half a mile however it became very apparent she wasn’t going to last the distance. She started of slowly then after a matter of 50 yards or so actually started a slow jog. This got a little faster (not much) as she passed by me but then it was all downhill (literally). Although the road starts to follow a mild decline I don’t think the bearer should as well. My son who was let out of school for the occasion was stood with his peers just about 200 yards down the road from me and by the time the Torch reached his position they had to swap to a male Bearer. Maybe her plastic overcoat caused too much drag or maybe the added weight was something she hadn’t factored into her training regime.
Now there are stories of brave souls overcoming adversity who were tasked with carrying the torch – soldiers who had lost limbs in conflict, severely disabled people and all of these managed the task admirably. Not so ‘our’ lady – there appeared on face value to be absolutely nothing wrong with her and subsequently looking up her profile proved that to be the case.
I suppose I’m just a tad jealous as even though she only managed less distance than a 400 meter runner she still got to hold the flame aloft and wave to the crowd.
The thing that made me chuckle the most though was something maybe I shouldn’t laugh at all at but found it hard not to… just down the way from me in the crowd there was an elderly lady who every time a bus came by held out her arm as if to beckon it to stop – she looked confused when they didn’t and despite several others trying to explain the situation to her appeared totally bemused at the size of the queue – all she wanted to do was get a lift to the shops !
Once in a lifetime occurrences…definitely.