Friday, 27 July 2012

What Torch?

There are times in life that an exasperated "What the fuck?!" is all that comes to mind. Today, my WTF moment came, right in perfect time with it being Opening Ceremonies Day for the 2012 Summer Olympics here in London.


Let's go back a little, to earlier this week. On Monday, the Olympic Torch Relay was going to be parading through our town, down the High Street at 2pm and Housemate Hazel & I had planned to go.  My poor wife would miss it because she had to work out of town, but we promised to take a lot of pictures. Afterward, we were due to go have our faces licked by puppies, get ice cream cones and roll around with kittens, like we normally do on the days she has to work away, but today was SPECIAL!

This was Olympic madness at it's finest! We've seen the rings, we've seen the roads, the village, but this was going to happen in our charming little city. By the pub, and the pond, and the tiny post office! Not in the big, overloaded host city, London, after a smelly Tube ride- right here...right around the corner!

The news coverage about the torch relay over the past few days had been showing the crowds in the streets, people with the colored rings painted on their cheeks, waving union jack flags, cheering on the selected runner, carrying that torch so proudly. I had now completely bought into it, and listen- I'm not one to get totally jerked off by anything that brings about a frenzy. In fact, I normally roll my eyes at stuff like this, and carry on about my business, not wanting to be a part of or deal with a herd, the smells, the germs, and the traffic. This was different. This was a "once in a lifetime thing," my mother reminded me. "I mean, how many people can say they got to be a part of something like that?!" She was right! Not many people would have the opportunity to be able to say they saw the Olympic Torch, on it's way to London to kick off the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Summer Games. So, off we went, just around the corner to the High Street with an hour to grab a good spot and wait.

The crowd was beginning to thicken by 1:30pm. The sun was out (yes, you read that right) making it a gorgeous day with no rain in sight and even a slight breeze. I had found a nice shady spot along the street that wasn't so completely jammed packed that stranger's shoulders were brushing against me or my toes were being stepped on, so things were starting off well, in my opinion. Hazel had joined me by this time, after parking the car back home (one failed attempt at getting a close spot was all it took to know our driveway was the best piece of parking real estate she would ever find at a time like this). "Blimey!" she said as she took a look down the street. It was starting to fill up now. I can only compare it with when there's a parade in your city, and the streets start lining with people- only multiply that by 5 and you can almost understand what was happening. The closer it was getting to 2pm, the more people started inching closer to the curb of the street and my comfy spot was tightening up, and shade was shrinking. In my immediate radius, a few honorable mentions: an old couple dressed more for church than a parade, 4 punky t'weens being assy but not horrible (like all the "almost-teenagers" normally are), a couple with a baby in a stroller and the contents of their flat hanging off it, a swarthy, tanned man in a tank top & gym shorts, shaped like "Magilla Gorilla" with his little girl sitting on his hairy shoulders, as if it were damp, bear skinned rug, an older gentleman with a high-end camera around his neck and his elementary school aged granddaughter, holding a large homemade-with-glue & construction paper torch, a teenaged girl with her little brother on her shoulders as he swung a Great Britian flag around relentlessly and lastly, an older lady on her cell phone, trying to direct her friend to our growing spot. I looked at my was after 2pm now...the natives were fidgety.

                                                        Actual photographs


The momentum was building. The Ooo's and Ahhh's had started every time a cop would drive down the street with lights flashing. The buzz would go in waves: "Is it coming yet? Can you see anything?" You could almost hear calves snapping, as everyone in the crowd was on tippy toes, straining to see over the person in front of them. The first of the sponsored trucks & busses were making their way down the street now, honking, playing music, and throwing stuff out to the crowds. Hazel and I were holding our phones as high as we could to snap pictures, then look to see what we had managed to capture. All I kept thinking was, "There's no way we can miss the actual flame...I mean, the runner is going to be carrying it up high, it's pretty big....we can't possibly miss it..."  On my tippy toes again, I was hearing the roar of the crowd get louder, and I had a pretty decent vantage point between two unforgiveable hats. I had gathered from the news footage over the past few days that the runner runs between two Olympic busses. Now, I could actually see the front Torch Relay bus that rides ahead and has camera men hanging off the back to film the runner so people were able to track the torch on some god forsaken new iphone app. This was it! My eyes were peeled...stretching....looking....waiting....looking...looking!

The next thing I know,  I see the second bus! (pictured above) I MISSED IT! But, where the hell was the runner? Where was the torch? How did I miss it? I don't think I even blinked! I looked at Hazel and said, "Did you see it?" She replied, "No, did you?" "No! What the hell! How could we have missed it?" We both scrolled through our pictures to check if we even had a remote piece of it in any of the over head pictures were we snapping while peering. "Nothing!" I said. Hazel looked down at the little girl with the homemade cardboard torch, who was now in tears because she couldn't see anything. "Oh..bless..." she said, looking at the little girl with the big sad eyes. "Bless?! She's FIVE! She doesn't even know what she fucking missed!" Me, on the other hand- Oh my god. My once in a lifetime moment passed and I completely missed it. Not a flame or a flicker-not even a smoke ring- nothing! I can't wait to explain this to my Mom later. "I don't know what happened, we were right there.....we just didn't see it, I guess."  (Insert idiot noises here)  I was in absolute disbelief, as the crowd dispersed.

Hazel and I laughed most of the walk home. I already knew how funny this would sound on the radio show when I explained that after waiting almost 90 minutes, in a crowd, in the heat, with the hype....we completely missed the damn torch go by. the local paper came, and Hazel called me to come and see what was on the cover. I stopped reading my twitter feed along enough to clomp downstairs, and see her holding it up- All I could say - after studying the front page for a minute was "WHAT THE FUCK?!...and..."Seriously?!"

      This explains why we missed seeing the Olympic Torch Relay come through our city:

70 days, 12,400 miles, 5 boroughs, more than 100 villages & cities, and we got the little person Torch Runner!  What are the chances? You do the math. I'm still shaking my head and giggling. I can only hope this proud lil' golden nugget made good time for the hand off, because, just yesterday the Ab Fab ladies' were off & steppin' with the biggest lighter Patsy's ever seen....


                                            CHEERS! LET THE GAMES BEGIN!                            

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