His age is showing with his knowledge of music.
Saturday, August 11
(Please excuse the typos and bad writing in this friendly message to family. Will hurry. There’s still much Olympics to explore.)
I forgot to say that two German writers pushed ahead of me leaving the bus yesterday. They just HAD to get into the security line before I did. They didn’t need to worry; I’m get the medal for the slowest time from bus to security. Grandmothers go faster—including the one traveling with me. I’m pretty sure the Rosetta Stone walks faster. But oh, those Germans!
Breakfast: Mixed fruit, awesome crunchy bacon (ACB), great link sausage, scrambled eggs, canaloni beans (pork ‘n to us rednecks), wheat toast with currant jelly, orange juice, yogurt. We dined on the Montague’s lovely patio, by the garden. Oh, my.
Commute: We took the 8:30 a.m. red double-decker shuttle from Russell Square. The streets had on their Saturday best, and we sped to the Main Press Centre in record time. Folks were milling around the Tower of London and strolling across the delightful Tower Bridge. It was a highlight.
Oh, boy. I took out my camera to take Nicki’s picture on the bus, and left it in the seat. Thank goodness the German photographer sitting behind me grabbed it as I left the bus. He said, “photo camera?” I do love those Germans.
The soldiers were gone from the security stations today, replaced by civilians. I miss the stern but somehow also jovial boys and girls.
Volunteer du jour: Michael, with a six-day growth of beard and a spectacular smile. “I’m here to chat with you,” he said when we asked what he’s doing at Olympic Park. He’s perfect for the job, as good as Andy Taylor was for sheriff. He took 10 days away from his job at a bank to volunteer (he got three days back), wouldn’t trade the experience for anything, stands eight hours smiling and talking to people and is spectacularly friendly.
Nickipedia is the expert on all things British. Anyone can ask Nicki Hancock anything. She’s awesome.
I just never figured out which way to look when crossing the street. Those “Look Right” and “Look Left” signs in central London were good help. Still, last night I nearly stepped in front of a bicycle. And walking on the sidewalks is nearly as dangerous. The Brits prefer to walk on the left side. I try to do the same. But so many foreigners are on the sidwalks that I wind up doing a serpentine, just to avoid crashing into someone.
This is pretty cool: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012...cc=nh-20120809
Health problems are piling up here in the MPC. One editor and a radio announcer have terrible colds. Richard fell down the subway steps. Bryce whacked his head on the towel dispenser. P. stuck herself with scissors and went to the informary. H. is better now, after battling near-pneumonia. Sam had stomach issues today. Nicki and I (knock on wood) are feeling fine and are more fit than when we arrived. I’m sure we each walk at least three miles a day. And climb way more stairs than at home.
Reporters have to climb stairs, too. The top level of Olympic Stadium is seven or eight stories off the ground. I’ve heard few complaints. Maybe we could do away with press-box elevators at American football stadiums. (Not!)
Lunch: Yogurt, peanut butter crackers, and a piece of Nicki’s leftover pizza. Oh, and summer sausage courtesy of Craig.
An Irish guy said his country’s two gold medals fit nicely within the country’s culture. “One fellow sat on a horse’s back. And a girl punched another girl in the face. That’s what we do.”
Today’s confirmation that George Bernard Shaw was right when he wrote that we and the British are “two peoples separated by a common language.” My wonderful grandmother from North Carolina used this one, but I haven’t heard it back home in a long, long time: If you were feeling right tired, you’d be very tired.
Speaking of Shaw, when we were at the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden last night, nobody said, “buy a flow’r off a poor girl?”
And the British use a wonderful affectation: they say “just” about every three breath. “Can you just step away?” “Can you just walk this way?” “Let me just check on that for you.” It’s extremely polite, as if they’re adding “I’m terribly sorry to ask this, but….”
Weather: Cooler than yesterday, but still nearly perfect. A little smoggy. High 72, low 63.
I have not encountered a single dud among the hundreds of volunteers. They were carefully vetted. Each candidate had to complete a long form, and the process started two years ago. One young woman said the process began two years ago, and included a long form. She and her pals decided to volunteer. But she later learned that the others had skipped, “because the form was too long.”
We’ve been packing up the office over the past few days. Many press officers are already home. Today I took down the clip boards on the wall where reporters register for tickets. The supplies closet has been emptied and loaded into crates for shipping back to the USOC office in Colorado Springs.
The IOC folks told me today that the demand for closing ceremonies media tickets is the greatest it’s ever been. The reason apparently is the caliber of the musical acts. The wonderful British papers (I haven’t written enough about them; they’re amazing) have been speculating about who will be performing: Spice Girls, Rolling Stones, McCartney, etc.
I suggested to folks in the office that the crowd would really enjoy hearing Herman’s Hermits. Or Gerry and the Pacemakers.
Silence. Two reporters—smart people, worldly people, classy people—came into the office and entered the conversation.
“You know their classic hit, ‘Ferry Cross the Mersy?’ of course,” I said.
How about “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter”? Silence. Quizzical looks.
Okay, everybody knows “I’m Henry the Eighth I Am.” More silence. Shrugged shoulders.
Dinner: Meat pie at the Olympic Stadium. Cookies.
We went back for the final night of track. The weather was perfect for football. And not too shabby for track.
I looked over the edge of the stadium at the beautiful warmup track next door. Athletes were there, well, warming up. There’s an enclosed pathway between that track and the main stadium. Then the athletes go to a sort of a green room with a 20-yard track where they can continue to bounce around to stay loose until they are called to march onto the track.
The crowd went LSU-football wild when Mo Farrah won the 5,000. It was loud, but a different kind of loud. More emotional, somehow, almost like folks at a dock welcoming home-bound soldiers on a ship. This isn’t war. It’s more important.
An Olympic moment was when the women’s high jump medalists jogged around the track with their countries’ flags. The women grinned and hugged and danced. Russian on the outside, then American in the middle, then Russian. That says it all.
The crowd started “the wave” after the women’s 4 x 400 relay. They booed when those of us in the media section didn’t play along. Imagine that….fans dissatisfied with the press. It was the only boos of the Olympics. Finally they figured out that we weren’t going to cooperate and just bypassed us. The Brits know the secret: just work it out.
Public address announcement you won’t hear in the United States, after a relay disqualification: “The Canadian athlete trod on the lane line.”
And we heard almost all our faves among the national anthems tonight. The best moment was La Marseillaise for the pole vault champion. The many French folks in the crowd sang along and it was as spirited as if we had all gathered in Rick’s Café Americain.
We also got to hear Russia’s anthem three times. And ours, too, but I think I was the only one singing. And, after a long wait, we finally got Great Britain’s.
There was a LONG delay between the end of the last race and the medal ceremonies. Most of the 80,000 people hung around for nearly an hour after the meet ended, just to sing and salute Mo Farah one last time. We stayed, too. Nicki was REALLY cold. Several other medal ceremonies came before the 5,000: javelin, women’s high jump, women’s 4 x 4, men’s 4 x 1. The crowd was almost beside itself in anticipation.
The 80,000 people let out a big “aaaaarrrrgh” every time the authorities played the medal-ceremony music, only to announce medalists other than the 5000-meters boys.
The crowd chanted “We want Mo.”
The Jamaican relayists stayed on the track, and stayed and stayed.
More chants: “we want Mo.”
The Jamaican would not leave the track, despite what looked like typically genteel encouragement from the volunteers.
The crowd was as tense as children waiting to come downstairs on Christmas morning.
The public address announcer said, “is there anyone in particular that you’re waiting for?”
The crowd cheered, clapped and laughed.
Finally it was time for the medal ceremony for the 5,000-meters. Hearing “God Save the Queen” one final and emotional time was well worth the cold hands. I can’t describe it.
What a night!
And what a privilege to be here! Every day is an adventure. Inspire a generation. And mind the gap.
His age is showing with his knowledge of music.
If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything; really helps when you get old.