Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Olympic Torch Relay - Or, Should I Get Off This Bus or Not?

This morning, as I turned the key in my door to leave for work, I froze: it was my brother's birthday. Too late for a card, not too late for a Facebook message. I didn't feel *too* guilty - after all, we'd gone shopping together when I was back recently and I bought him a jacket he wanted. Not too shabby for an otherwise absent sister.

But then as I got settled on the bus, I saw this:

Hmm ... a red bus with arms, popping out of Upper Street, and tons of people with cameras at the ready lined up on the meridian ... was I forgetting something? Oh yes, the Olympic Torch Relay, which I missed last weekend when it was going through Hackney.

'The Olympic Torch is coming through my old neighborhood!!!! OMG!!' I typed excited to my mom via my Blackberry. 'Really?' she replied. 'Didn't think that place was a big deal.' No love for Islington from my mom, then. Sheesh.

So then I had this inner argument with myself as the bus sailed down past Angel station, then Sadler's Wells: should I get off or not? On one hand, I envied the Islington-set, clutching their paper flags and coffees, but on the other, I desperately needed to get to work early to sort out some emails. 'That's a lame excuse,' I said aloud. 'This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!' (I think I was still on a high from yesterday's performance)

My decision was kind of made for me when I spotted Alice and her boyfriend, Matt, near Exmouth Market. "I see you," I said in a stalker's voice, after dialing her number. "I think you should get off and meet us on the corner," she replied, as if she had been expecting me to call all along. "Then we can walk to work together."

So this was the scene when I got off the bus:

You know it's serious when the po-po arrive on their sparkly bikes.

But what I didn't know was that the relay would feature some "pre-show" entertainment from all the Olympics sponsors, including Coke:

And Lloyds, which - in my books - won the award for the most awkward/random float/car/van-thingy and "street performers" ever. Check out the girl in the middle. Can you imagine what her brief was? "Hi, yeah, we'd like you to do some acrobatics, periodically, just ahead of the Olympic Torch. You'll be accompanied by a guy jumping on those ... bouncing ... things. Guy on the bouncing thing? Yeah. We're gonna to need you to blow this whistle. At random intervals."

Then the "official" bus came along, which was kind of cool:

And then there were whispers in the crowd of who'd be carrying the torch. "I heard it was David Walliams!" someone said, jostling at my shoulder. (I don't expect any Americans to know who that is ... unless you're a fan of Little Britain. No? Me neither.)

He showed up a few minutes later, all bronzed and fit. David Walliams is neither tan nor fit (though he did swim 140-miles in the Thames for charity). "WHO'S THAAAT?" I screeched, as only an American can, when he passed. "Seriously," I said to Alice. "Who the hell was that?" (I still don't know. Anyone?)

In the end, I still made it to work early and scored myself a little flag that I can wave on Saturday at the Gymnastics. The moral of the story? Always get off the bus.


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