Sunday, July 15, 2012

Keenie Beanie's Olympic Moment

I do love watching the Olympics, getting sucked into the stirring back stories, learning (or feigning to know) more than I ever though possible about a variety of sports, watching the thrill of victory and agony of defeat.

Yet, here I find myself living mere miles from the centre of this year's Summer Games, and I feel completely uninspired.  In fact, I'm rather dreading it.  I have a beastly commute already, and in a few short weeks, precious travel lanes are going to be placed off limits to the proletariat for the convenience of those involved in the Games.  There are signs and warnings everywhere about the coming travel snarls.  There are companies encouraging their employees to take holiday or stay at home for the duration.  It hasn't stopped raining for months; Britain has chalked up the wettest spring EVAH and the London Games could be, quite literally, a washout.

Signs placed all along my 25 mile commute warned about coming traffic difficulties for the Olympic torch relay scheduled last Tuesday to start in Oxford, visit the Queen in Windsor and wrap up in Reading.  Monday night, I googled the torch route to find out just how much my commute would be impacted.  To my surprise, it was scheduled to pass right through Egham, in which my office is set.

Egham is a nondescript little English town with no particular claim to fame.  It blends seamlessly into Staines, the larger town down the road made famous by Sasha Baron Cohen's Ali G (to Staines' collective embarrassment).  Yet the torch was going to come through unremarkable little Egham a mere 15 minutes' walk from the office.  I decided that this was a moment not to be missed.

There were two schools of thought in the office: those who wanted to go be a part of Olympic history and those who were "bah, humbug!" about it all.  The morning passed, as it so often does lately, with alternating showers and sun.  When the time came to set off, the sun was shining and the torch-seeking contingent recruited a few bah-humbuggers to our cause.

Photo: Surrey County Council News
Within minutes of our departure, grey clouds gathered ominously and by the time we joined the crowd lining the route, a proper downpour was underway.  I had ventured out in a designer raincoat more stylish than functional and a wool felt bucket hat that is absolutely impervious to rain.  With the exception of the meager protection offered by that hat, I was soaked through to the skin.

Between the brolleys and the five-row-deep crowd, there was precious little view of the route.  A lady near me in the crowd expressed surprise that the rain hadn't kept more of the spectators away.  In a classic observation, another woman exclaimed - "Of course not, we're British!"

However, proving that old adage "if you don't like the weather, wait 10 minutes - it'll change," in short order the rain had stopped, the brolleys were stowed and the sun was shining brightly again.  As the crowd and the road started steaming in the sun, we waited expectantly for the torch to arrive.  Soon enough, it came into view - union jacks were waved, a cheer was raised, photos were snapped, and a bit of Olympic history passed by.

Photo: Surrey County Council News
In a quick moment, it was all over.  We all headed back to the places of which we were from, and I imagine in 20 minutes there was little left to indicate the crowd had been there at all.

Our bedraggled group returned to the office, to the bah-humbuggers' self-satisfaction about the wisdom of giving the event a miss.  One of my soaked co-workers rustled up a vendor's promo T-shirt reading "I'm too EXSI for this T-shirt" and got a fair amount of ribbing for donning it in place of her soggy blouse.

However, as another one of my co-workers observed: "From now on, there will always be two groups of people.  Those who were there, and those who were not."  Soaking wet and all, I'm very glad to say I was one of those who were there.


  1. That is so very cool. That kind of thing always makes me tear up.

    1. Oh, I become a blubbering mess for the Olymic duration. Lord knows what it's gonna be like now that I'm preggers!