4000 days to go - Tuesday 14th August 2001 London's not planning on bidding for any Olympics, oh no. Instead all eyes are on the 2005 World Athletics Championships, which are scheduled to be held in a new stadium at Picketts Lock. It'll be a triumph, obviously. Planning is well underway, but there are funding worries (the whole project might cost - shock horror - nearly £110m!). Surely the Government wouldn't dream of pulling out... The workerfolk at Tyrone Ltd, in their big yellow shed up Marshgate Lane, are busy making luxury lace curtains. I'm just about to move into a flat in unfashionable Bow, less than a mile from a spot that'll be world-famous in eleven years time. Thankfully my letting agents don't yet know this, otherwise my rent could have been considerably higher.
3000 days to go - Monday 10th May 2004 The Picketts Lock fiasco is long forgotten. Instead all eyes are on London's proposed bid for the 2012 Olympic Games. Seb Coe & Co plan to plonk an Olympic Stadium in the Lower Lea Valley, despite less-than-wild enthusiasm from the businesses on top of whom it would be plonked. Just like any Monday, there are bits of car for sale at JJ Autos on Carpenters Road. Why worry about the future? London might not reach the final shortlist of five cities at the end of the month, and will almost certainly lose out to Paris in the big vote next year. So it's business as usual. A London Games will never happen, obviously, but I'm still regularly out and about along Stratford's industrial riverbanks, just in case.
2000 days to go - Sunday 4th February 2007 It's coming! The Olympics are really coming to London this time, and the Government can't possibly withdraw (however loudly grumpy budget-blasting taxpayers might complain). The Lower Lea Valley is being bought up, patch by patch, and then hundreds of acres will be sealed off in the summer so that they can be transformed from warehouses into grandstands. At the Manor Garden allotments, hopes remain high that the ODA might want to preserve a patch of sustainable foodstuffs amongst the corporate burgershacks. But every plotholder secretly realises that this spring's planting will be the last. I think I might go up onto the Greenway and take a photo of the emerging stadium once a month. While I still can.
1000 days to go - Saturday 31st October 2009 We have a stadium. Its crown of white girders has been dominating the E15 skyline for a while now, reminding local residents that their communities are about to be transformed. The area around the stadium still looks a complete featurelessmess, but the skeleton of several other Olympic venues is already ascending. Bosses at H Forman & Son now look out towards the stadium from the pinkish balcony of their state-of-the-art salmon smokery. Somewhere beyond the Lea, precisely where their not quite state-of-the-art factory used to be, there's a Royal box and a heck of a lot of ramped terracing. In Greenwich, angry protesters flock to complain about the terrible damage 75 horses will do to their favourite World Heritage park. Other residents aren't quite so paranoid. Quick - the official consultation period ends today, so there's just time to submit your blinkered bigotry (or otherwise) online.
0000 days to go - Friday 27th July 2012 London becomes the first city ever to host the Olympics three times. Yah boo sucks to you Paris. The eyes of the world are on Parkes Galvanising (or, at least, the spot where Parkes Galvanising used to be). Umpteen thousand people have forked out a lot of money to watch the Olympic Opening Ceremony in the pouring rain (and are hoping it's more exciting than Leona Lewis on a bus). Several security guards want to give me a rigorous patdown before I'm allowed into the Olympic Park to watch the First Night Fireworks from what will one day be my local park. But for the next fortnight, this park belongs to the world.
1000 days after - Thursday 23rd April 2015 The Olympics are long gone. But there's a nice new swimming pool for the people of Stratford to splash around in, and a shiny Velodrome precisely where the old cycling circuit used to be, and some nice ex-Village flats for rich bankers to spend their bonuses on. That's proper legacy for you. The Waterside Cafe in the Olympic Park has just opened for its first spring season. Maybe some customers will turn up one day and sit by the river and throw chunks of blueberry flapjack at the swans. Andrew Gilligan is still complaining that one of the flowerbeds in Greenwich Park looks a bit trampled.
2000 days after - Wednesday 17th January 2018 Everybody's talking about the Olympics... but the buzz is no longer about London. It's the Winter Games opening ceremony in Reykjavik tomorrow. Do you think Brooklyn Beckham has a chance in the Snowboard Freestyle? West Ham are playing midweek football at their new 25,000 seater stadium in the Olympic Park. Unfortunately, now that they're floundering in the lower reaches of Division Two, the former Royal Box has been renamed the Tumbleweed End. Just beyond the Westfield shopping centre, beneath the rusting spire of the Boris Johnson Memorial Tower, thousands of relocated Newham residents are living in elevated shoeboxes and cardboard-wall terraces amongst some of the most expensive parkland on the planet. Some of them even go swimming occasionally. £9.3bn well spent. No, really.