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Luke McGee

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London 2012 One Week In - My Only Complaint Is Having Nothing to Complain About

Posted: 04/08/2012 00:00

My Olympic week began in precisely the same way as I imagine it did for most people; sat in my living room waiting for the Opening Ceremony to start with Twitter open - ready to unleash a tidal wave of creative criticism about everything we were about to see.

Of course, the ceremony turned out to be incredible and the only people who managed to find grounds on which to criticise it were moronic kill-joys or Aidan Burley.

By the end I was so swept up in Olympic-mania that the wholly inadequate #sirdannyboyle hashtag filled me with nothing but fury, and the only way I saw fit to reward Boyle for his genius was to offer him Pippa Middleton as a bride and hand over the keys to Buck House, Number 10 and News International.

This has been the story of my week since; something Olympic related fills me with feelings of dread, quickly followed by relief, satisfaction and then off the chart Jubilation.

Much as this has made my life more immediately pleasant, I'm not sure how it sits with me professionally.

You see, from the second I was handed my Olympic pass I was desperate for the games to be an utter disaster. As someone covering the Olympics, nothing could be more boring than everything going so well that Boris Johnson being stuck on a zip-line managed to make the front pages as some kind of massive cock-up.

I used to fall asleep at night fantasising about my perfect story; a family flying half the way across the world to watch their son or daughter compete, spending thousands of pounds to do so - only to miss the event because of a delayed tube. A diabetic having an emergency can of Pepsi whipped from their hands by overzealous security guards, leading to them going into hypoglycemic shock (the diabetic doesn't die, a blonde-haired man zip-lines down to rescue them. Zoink!)

These were the stories I was desperate to find. But at an event this well run, there's no chance.

At every turn I have been left not just impressed, but in awe of how organised everything is. The public transport to the park is running so smoothly you would hardly believe there is a huge event happening at all. The javelin train, which takes you from King's Cross to Stratford in under ten minutes, runs so regularly and with so many carriages that I've only needed to stand once. Queuing is virtually non-existent getting in and out of the park. Okay, not non-existent, but not the two-and-a-half hour nightmare we were being told to prepare for. The army are doing a marvellous job on the gates, the volunteers inside the park are friendly and helpful.

This morning the Central Line closed and the press (myself included) went insane. "Yes! The punters are going to miss Ennis. This is great!" Of course, by the time I had settled down inside the stadium and the athletes entered all the empty seats were filled. Rats.

One thing I have yet to mention is the atmosphere inside the arenas. As you might expect, this has been stunning, even at events not involving Team GB.

And this brings me nicely onto my final point about the games, which is something that I honestly don't think anyone could have expected. The Olympics have made London a nicer place to be. London is normally a hostile city. People are rude, don't talk to one-another and prefer to drift through the city ignoring that anyone else exists. I honestly believe that most Londoners would step over a fellow human being writhing in pain on the floor if their train was about to depart. But for this past week something has changed.

People are smiling at one another. People are discussing the games with total strangers. On my Wednesday night tube home to Brixton I was astonished to see two city gents approach a mother and her young son who had obviously just come from the Olympic Park. They asked what events they had seen and what the park was like with childlike enthusiasm.

The Olympics have given London something to talk about, something to care about and something for us all to get behind. And this has been the greatest gift to our city.

Highlight - sitting in Horse Guards Parade with Team USA fans when Phelps became their new god.

Lowlight - being told I represented everything wrong with Britain by a member of the public when asking for a vox-pop

 

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