Ollympics, August 2

Lone Wolf '49

Special Hen
Jan 18, 2008
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Oklahoma City
Thursday, August 2

(Please excuse the typos. Will hurry. There’s much Olympics to explore.)

Breakfast: Cereal, toast, cheese.

Okay, it’s true: a restaurant in Central London is serving a dish that includes live ants. The restaurateur collects the insects in Denmark, then sucks them gently with a straw into a tiny net. They are then flown to London.

Question from home: “Who are those people on bicycles riding alongside the rowers?” Answer: They’re coaches.

Bob Beamon is here. He’s 65 years old, and is CEO of a group called “Art of the Olympians. Which begs the question, who is the greatest Olympian of all time? Guess that’s like asking who’s the greatest baseball player. Greatest Hobart pharmacist. Greatest college football coach. Greatest sports writer.

Commute: Caught the 8:30 a.m. red double-decker bus, which may have driven a little more cautiously this morning. Beautiful morning. 43 minutes to the MPC. Was scrunched into seat by large photographer, but still enjoyed seeing the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. Nicki took the 8 a..m. bus.

Good news: all of our laundry came back from the MPC cleaning shop. (In Vancouver, my clothes were lost for five days.)

“Park Live” is a hillside in Olympic Park. It’s a happy, peaceful place where fans sit on the grass along the canal and watch the Olympics on a giant television screen. British Airways seems to be the sponsor and needs a round of applause for it. We saw families, lovers and folks taking naps in the spring-like sunshine. One woman was surrounded by six empty beer bottles. Some grump said the place would be a disaster if it rained. Maybe like Woodstock? I suspect when the weather descends, they’ll close before Jimi Hendrix “sings.”

I could have listened to Tom all night.

Lunch: Yogurt, seven cookies, three restaurant-sized peanut butter packets (with apologies to grandson William who’s allergic), four chocolates from the New York Times office.

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.” Suspenders here are for holding up ladies’ stockings. A guy who said, “I’m wearing red suspenders” would get a funny look.

Speaking of Shaw, I have yet to learn whether there are lilac trees in the heart of town, nor whether you can hear a lark in any other part of town. But I’m still looking.

We noticed a long queue waiting outside the Copper Box and the people in line all cheered when someone left the venue. A polite but intense ticket-taker explained why, and it’s amazing: every time someone leaves the building, a person in the queue gets to enter. The ticket-takers scan the departees’ tickets, and their seat locations pop up on a computer at the front of the entry queue. Someone from the queue gets to enter and sit in the vacated seats.

I told you it was amazing.

The Olympic lanes on the roads are working, because the Brits are complying. I’m a little embarrassed when the red double-decker bus scoots along past gridlocked traffic in the other lane.

H, my friend who handles ticketing for the IOC, reportedly has pneumonia and is confined to his quarters at the Montague. G., his charming wife and assistant, is holding down the fort. They love the Olympics as much as I do, and I’m sad for them.

Weather: High 70, low 60. No rain. Beautiful day for football.

The Montague is near London University, which has streets lined with large sycamore trees. Unlike at home, the sycamores actually have leaves.

One friend rode The Eye yesterday. He said it as only marginally worth the wait.

People sleep where they can, particularly on the bus. Yesterday a photographer was snoring and nobody seemed to mind.

Email from Oregon, about the woman giving the half-eaten Danish to me: “It’s obvious, isn’t it? You need to eat more.”

And I keep having thoughts about what I should have said to that thoughtless gentleman who asked if Oklahoma was known for anything other than bombings. “Well, we’re known for Will Rogers, and he obviously never met you.”

The public address announcer led this cheer

London is full of statues of famous British people. Gladson, Churchhill, etc. Near Westminster Abby, we spotted one of a distinguished-looking gentleman. It was Abraham Lincoln.

Rode the media shuttle to Horse Guard Parade to see Switzerland play Austria in men’s Beach Volleyball this evening. (Nicki wouldn’t let me go to the women’s matches. Just kidding. We had to go when we could go, and men happened to be playing.) I would have gone when nobody was playing, just to see the spectacular venue.

From the press tribune, you have a choice of either watching volleyball, or looking at Big Ben or the top of Westminster Abby or Whitehall or The Eye. If you get tired of all that, you can watch the dancers clad in bikinis and Hawaii costumes. Oh, yes, there’s the volleyball.

The public address announcer led this cheer:



NOW FAST – And the crowd said “SWITZER….LAND”



It’s as if you went to a party and a sport broke out. Olympic dignity went out the window and was bumped by good clean fun. Well, good clean fun with dancing girls and a public address announcer who said, LOOK AT THAT when they shook.

After staring at the long lines at the lovely concession stand under stately sycamore trees beside the stadium, we walked to Trafalgar Square and soaked in the evening. Other lovers were there, too.

Then we walked to the “Visa VIP Party.” We had signed up for it online, because of the promise of free wine and food. The nice clerks found our names on the list and we went downstairs into what would have been a nice rathskeller (sp?) if it hadn’t been absolutely full of 20-something VIPs. We got wine in communion cups and some pretzels, Pringles and trail mixd, and stood exchanging flesh with the slithering mass of happy youngsters until one bumped me and I spilled Chardonnay on Nicki’s jacket. We talked to two nice sweating boys from Louisville, grabbed our complimentary cap and string bag, and got back outside into the cool night just before we suffocated. Thirty minutes as a VIP was plenty.

Dinner: Pringles, pretzels, trail mix.

Volunteer du jour: Tom, 55-ish, security out party. Loves America. Lovely undignified British accent. (my favorite) Father was a fan of John Wayne. “’e took me to a filming of a John Wayne movie ‘ere in London. ‘e asked JohnWayne (all one word) if we could taike a photo and we have it on our wall—me as a lit’le fellow of seven and JohnWayne about this tall (reaching s high as he could.) I have been to America—to the Lit’le Big Horn and the Aramo (sic, that’s how he said it). I met a Texan and tried to talk to ‘im about Davy Crocket at the Aramo. I think ‘e was a bit bothered. Could it be possible that ‘e didn’t know about Davy Crocket? A big fan of the American west, I am. Good day, sir; fanks for the visit.”

Then we walked to frenetic Piccadilly Circus and through China town, past the British Museum and back to the Montague, Every time we stood for a few seconds and looked lost, someone asked if he could direct us somewhere. These people are SO friendly.

The moon was full tonight, but we watched the city instead.

What a privilege to be here! Every day is an adventure. Inspire a generation. And mind the gap.

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