The final day of summer…

…and the first day of autumn.

Yesterday felt like the definitive end to the summer in London. Temperatures soared to 28c – but were set to plummet the following day; schools had returned the week before and university students were on the brink of return; and, to top it all off, it was the day the Paralympic Games ended. That end meant the end of six awesome weeks in the capital.

Sure, I was almost inconsolable at the end of the Olympics, but at least there was the Paralympics – and they exceeded all expectations. This time last week I was sat in the stadium watching athletics and it turned out that at least six friends of mine were there at the same time. The Paralympics succeeded where the Olympics had been rather lacking – they were accessible to virtually everyone who wanted to be there.

But I don’t want to see it go.
The Olympic rings had already left St Pancras when I was there last week. Soon the brightly coloured bunting, banners and pavement art will vanish too. Huge lanyards will no longer be must-have fashion accessories – nor will the attractive Games Maker and Ambassador uniforms. But what I fear most isn’t what’s disappearing, but what may return. We Brits love a bit of cynicism, but if this summer’s proved anything it’s that actually, we quite enjoy being positive about life!

Easing us into autumn and this new reality, the first day of autumn had a surprise up its sleeve – for just a few hours, we could have the Olympics back.

Really, I should have spent today putting in some hard graft on the two essays I need to hand in a week today, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to cheer our Olympians, Paralympians and volunteers by way of saying thanks for helping provide us with a summer of epic proportions. Miraculously, I acquired a position on the steps of St Paul’s, giving me a cramped but nonetheless excellent vantage point from which to watch proceedings.

Just going into a Mobot…

A pensive Tom Daley

Gymnasts

The rowers getting all athletic…

It was a beautiful, beautiful thing. Suits jostled with school children and slightly-bemused tourists. The noise of clapping was only dimmed by the inability to simultaneously clap and take photos. Strangers made conversation with each other and we all watched in glee as this family nearly fell off a plinth in their enthusiasm for cheering a relative of theirs who was on one of the floats:

Once home, the Olympic joy continued, as Zhen – one of my students, who’d had the honour of carrying the sign for UAE in the opening ceremony – turned up wearing her opening ceremony outfit. (She’d been at the Mall so had dressed appropriately for the occasion. This also explained why I’d spotted an Edwardian nurse at St Paul’s.) This was the first (and probably only) time I’d got to see the dress up close and can reveal that the faces are in fact taken from photos of Olympic volunteers – every single face is a genuine person. 

Talking of the volunteers, my final words on this epic summer have to go the amazing Games Makers – not least the contribution made by the Kilvert family, three of whom were on the driving team during the games. I loved Jenni’s updates on which colour car she was driving each day and her Dad’s tale of ending up at the Tongan High Commissioner’s house one evening, but her Mum trumped everyone with this photo:
Yes, that is the actual Eddie Izzard.

I’ve told my Mum that she now needs to have her photo taken with someone like Stephen Fry in order to beat Anne in ‘cool Mum points’! Eddie has been an amazing advocate of the Games Makers, encouraging them to wear their uniforms with pride today, no matter what they were up to, and it was great to see – as was his smile after awarding Johnnie Peacock his gold medal last Thursday. Here’s hoping his mission to ensure we say thank-you continues beyond the games…
Goodbye to the summer of 2012. You will never be forgotten.

Comments

  1. This has made me cry.

  2. I picked up a comment on one of Eddie’s videos to Gamesmakers which concluded that Gamesmakers were self selected. I have thought about this and there is a sermon in there somewhere, I may even have a go at writing it for you sometime Liz.

    Had your Mum & I known there was a competition for coolest Mum we would have tried harder!

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