Just like most of you, I couldn't help but be glued to the TV to watch our much anticipated London 2012 kick off on Friday. It was a great display of our past present and future but also of our fellow Brits. I'm honored to know two of the volunteers of the Opening Ceremony so have stayed close to how much effort, training and rehearsals put in by the people of the UK in order to bring this wonderful spectacle to eyes of the world and to the pride of the nation.
Us Londoners are all very quick to question the country's capacity to pull off this enormous undertaking. I have to admit that I was one of those until I arrived into Heathrow last week after a quick trip away. The airport was drenched in patriotism; enormous and perfectly placed 'Welcome' signs decorated the halls of Heathrow all displaying images of Beefeaters and other British stuff, a few more steps onto UK soil and 'Heathrow Volunteers' scurried around the arrivals hall responsible for spotting and plucking the incoming athletes out of the crowds of us lowly mere mortals. After my two exhausting days away, there was no mistaking mine and my travel partner's bleary eyes from the rather irritatingly sprightly and excited athletes bounding off the plane; clearly not an impossible feat for the volunteers to differentiate between us but I imagine it was a comforting and sufficiently British welcome for newcomers.
Just like after the Jubilee weekend, I am left feeling rather proud of our nation. Ok, the weather has been horrendous, it's beyond expensive and traveling around London has been grim but there's no mistaking, us Brits are damn good at showcasing the really great stuff about our country to the prying eyes of other nations. Whether it's our celebrated traditions, our music legends or our self-deprecating humor there's always a soldier, a McCartney or a cheesy Mr Bond moment to show off our best bits.
The day before the Opening Ceremony I found myself on a boat on the Thames overlooking the London Eye and Parliament. Getting there was hell, so a sweaty and rather irate version of myself stepped on board but a couple of minutes of the view and I was feeling kinda excited about this project we've taken on. Particularly when I overheard a couple of yanks slagging off the service industry in the UK as they queued at the bar next to me. Ok, ok, I was totally slagging off the poor run-ragged barman in my head seconds before but on hearing the righteous arrogance of these two visiting Texans I found myself becoming protective of our crap, miserable and sloppy service industry.
Like your pesky siblings growing up; they can wind you up, tease you, take advantage of you and generally make your blood boil but rue the day anyone tries to bitch about them, bully them or take advantage of them...the hatred can turn to love and camaraderie in a heartbeat. Single life in London can be tough but maybe I'll just cosy up with my city - at least until the week's commute kicks my ass anyway..."