Monday, 6 August 2012

Snooker is not an Olympic sport

I'm not one for watching sport, with two exceptions. I used to watch a lot of snooker, because I find the combination of abstraction and seediness very appealing. I also had a big crush on Stephen Hendry as a teenager -- I think it was his shyness, spottiness and firm grasp of geometry that did it for me. Also I watch showjumping when it's on, but I do find it a little stressful as well as beautiful because of the partnership aspect.

So I have watched almost none of the Olympics, even though unlikely people like my mother have been finding themselves glued to the TV. Still I'm quite enjoying them. I thought London would be a nightmare but it's actually quite pleasant. There's a bit of a party atmosphere, with tube train drivers announcing medal results as they come through, and visitors wandering around in Olympic uniforms of various countries, as well as lots of people carrying children waving British flags. Yesterday I met up with my friend Laura who is one of the Olympic volunteers. She's come down from Manchester to spend her fortnight's summer holiday sleeping on a friend's sofa and getting up ridiculously early to steward people through security at the Olympic park. We went to St Paul's for evensong and then had a coffee. The marathon route was still closed to traffic, which had essentially turned the whole St Paul's area into a large pedestrian precinct, and the cafes, which in the City usually close at weekends, were open and bustling. The City is usually a depressing ghost town at the weekend. Then we walked across the Millenium Bridge down to Southwark. Lots of the visiting Olympic nations have hired large places and set up hospitality houses. I think they're mostly open to the public, and many of them are free. (The Londonist has a list.) We went to the Swiss one, right next to Southwark Cathedral. Perhaps immediately after Murray's surprise victory over Federer wasn't the most tactful time, but actually we had a tremendously polite conversation with a lovely Swiss lady, where we extolled the virtues of Federer as both tennis player and human being while she did the same about Murray. They had free biscuits and Lindt chocolate, as well a woman yodelling along to accordian music, and one of those massive long alpine horns. Also climbing, cheese rolling, and other Swiss 'sports'. Laura picked up a few free lapel pins, which apparently are collected by the Olympic volunteers, and have swapping value.

Anyway, in short: the Olympics are quite good fun. (A lot more interesting than my M.Sc. summer project...)

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