Oh Christ. We’re into it then: the dreaded Last Week. As one of life’s worriers this is the period I like to mull over everything that could possibly go wrong with my plans. Jesus, do I know where my passport is? Where the hell am I going to stay? How much ransom would my parents actually put up? None of this is even vaguely rational but it happens. Every. Time. Before sloping off to Costa Rica I prayed my flight would be cancelled to spare me from the nightmarish prospect of Change.
I tell you what though, it’s been a hell of a last month. The Olympics, towards which I felt only vague ambivalence before they kicked off, was the first time the positive influence of sport became apparent to me, at least since my spectacular 2 foot dive-catch in Year 11 cricket. To see all these men and women throwing stuff the furthest, cycling their legs the fastest and running short distances the quickest was genuinely inspiring, at least in the sense that watching it all on tele felt less than a big old waste of time. I had a little flag and everything.
I was even lucky enough to participate. I saw the Opening Ceremony rehearsal, which I lorded over all and sundry for several glorious days. I wandered the Olympic Park eating shockingly unhealthy food and panicking about the recycled tickets queue. I even purchased legitimate tickets and sat through 2 hours of women’s volleyball, an unforgettable experience that mysterious spawned multiple photos of the player’s bottoms. Some of them were quite nicely composed.*
Watching the Opening and Closing ceremonies gave rise to the rather odd sensation of national pride, a feeling usually monopolised by racists and old people, and seeing the Gold medal counter tick up each day was positively gleeful. I began to talk with an air of authority on sports I’m pretty sure no-one had heard of before July. Oh yes, the offside rule in handball is really quite simple. And you’re unfamiliar with skulling techniques in Synchronised Swimming? Peshaw. The atmosphere at work rose each time a roar from the Equestrian crowd made it’s way across the road and marvelling at the flycam-eye-view of the campus reminded me just how stupidly picturesque my workplace is (was?).
When it ended there was a huge, Bradley Wiggins shaped hole in my daily routine. I would wander home from work and stare lamely at the television, willing it to replace The One Show with Gary Linekar or Gabby Logan. Instead, Matt Baker persisted, introducing the show’s agriculture expert and her ferns. It was dispiriting.
Still, as much as I’ve lamented the various delays that have kept my travels at bay, I can look back on this past month positively. I mean, I wasn’t hopping around the US trying desperately to land myself a part in a burger commercial as planned, but I did get to experience the Greatest Show on Earth In Association With McDonalds(tm). Also, those bum pics are probably worth something to someone, somewhere.
*Can’t take credit for these I’m afraid. Step forward little brother, you dirty bugger.