As the Olympic Games approach, it's clear that there's going to be a never-ending stream of news, opinion, publicity and critique spewing forth over the upcoming year. So I think it's now time I dedicated my blog completely to London 2012. I'll be bringing you 365 days of information and comment from the borders of the Olympic Park, leading up to the greatest show on earth. Please, don't switch off, it'll all be terribly interesting.
Olympic Report: Tom Daley officially opened the Aquatic Centre last night with a dive from the 10m board. You may have seen the shenanigans on the TV last night. But what you won't have seen is how long it took the crowd to get there. They were arriving at Pudding Mill Lane DLR two hours before the event, passports and official identification in hand. Schoolchildren and their teachers, genuinely excited to be invited, were pouring off the trains. Also present were streams of grey men in suits, and ladies in something more summery, each representing government or sports bodies or community groups. They all filed down the narrow path past a wall of concrete blocks, directed by umpteen helpful LOCOG staff bedecked in yellow hi-vis. They queued patiently at the southern entrance, waiting to be ID-checked and security-frisked. And then they queued patiently round the edge of the compound, waiting to be ushered onto one of 13 buses lined up to take them to the Aquatic Centre. Gaining entrance to the Olympic Park isn't easy, or quick, and this wasn't even a stadium-ful. But wow, didn't the pool look impressive on the telly? For us lucky folk out here in Stratford, come 2014, that's our new local swimming pool, that is.
Olympic Fact: The Aquatic Centre will double the number of Olympic sized swimming pools in London. (from 1 to 2)
Olympic Comment: The Princess Royal unveiled the London 2012 Olympic Medal design last night to an underwhelmed crowd in Trafalgar Square. The front's nice, with a depiction of the goddess Nike echoing designs used recently in Beijing and Athens. But the obverse is pig-ugly. They've taken the 2012 logo nobody likes. They've plonked it on top of a representation of the Thames (but obscured the loop which defines which river this is). In the background is a 'pick-up-sticks' grid which "radiates the energy of athletes and a sense of pulling together" or some other artistic bollocks. And finally there's a square, for no particularly good reason except apparently it balances the design. Shamefully poor, the backside is, all bling and no beauty. If I won one of these I'd definitely wear it logo-face downwards.
Olympic Traffic News: There were terrible traffic jams on the Blackwall Tunnel Approach Road (southbound) last night. Nothing was moving, apart from the occasional engine-spluttering shuffle forward, all the way back to the Bow Flyover roundabout. And that was with two lanes open. Imagine what it'll be like in a year's time when one's been coned off for athletes, officials and "special guests".
Olympic Rant: According to last night's Evening Standard, David Cameron wants senior politicians to travel to the Games next summer by public transport. Nice soundbite, Prime Minister, but what a bloody stupid idea. When large portions of London's road network have been sealed off for the benefit of VIP travellers, it would be criminal not to use them to their fullest capacity. There'll be plenty of room for ministerial limousines, so that's where the ministerial limousines should be. We don't want government ministers squeezing onto the tube with the rest of us, making our travelling conditions even worse, when they could be using roadways already dedicated for their use. However much Londoners hate the idea of Olympic Lanes, they're an unavoidable necessity imposed on every host city by the IOC. So let's fill them as much as we can, it's only common sense... eh David?
Olympic Fact: Four skeletons were discovered and removed from a prehistoric settlement discovered on the site of the Aquatic Centre.
Olympic Exhibition: A small exhibition called Your 2012 has opened at the Museum of London Docklands, showcasing photographs taken around the Olympic site. These aren't photos of a completed scrubbed-up locale, they're an honest record of what the place looks like now, including razor-wire fences, algae-filled rivers and rusting Hackney Marsh goalposts. In one corner is an archive section which shows what the area used to look like, and I'm rather chuffed because they're using one of my photographs. The curator asked nicely, and sought official permission, so mine is the official pictorial record of the long-lost Manor Garden allotments. All of the exhibition's photos have been bound into a special Your 2012 book, of which only two copies exist, and which you can flick through when you visit. These will help future generations to remember what was here before, and to judge whether the legacy transformation has been for good or bad. (exhibition continues until February 5th 2012)
Olympic Innumeracy: Apparently, according to a press release hurled out by London 2012 yesterday, there are "just 365 days to go" to the Games. That's true today, what with 2012 being a leap year, but it most definitely wasn't true yesterday. Further down the same piece, IOC President Jacques Rogge praised the city that will welcome the world "in only 365 days’ time". Whoever his scriptwriter is, they got the apostrophe right but they can't count.
Olympic Roadsign: There's a big sign on Stratford High Street which reads "Marshgate Lane and Pudding Mill Lane - unsuitable for coaches." But this is a lie, given all the official coaches I saw down there last night. It's just that nobody wants nasty provincial coach parties on sightseeing tours clogging up the Park entrance.
Olympic Confession: No, don't worry, I won't really be writing about the Olympics every day between now and next year. Even though I so could. But expect more, ever more, as 2012 approaches.