diamond geezer

 Saturday, September 10, 2011

London 2012  Olympic update
  Games Over

One year from today, on 10th September 2012, London's Games will be over. The Paralympic Closing Ceremony will have taken place the night before, the big flag will have passed on to Rio, and the world's media will be going home. It'll be the ultimate Monday morning back-to-work feeling, as the capital gets used to normality again after the most extraordinary summer. On Friday 14th September the Olympic Park officially closes its doors, and it'll be Sunday 16th before the last Paralympians are kicked out of the Athletes Village. And then the building work starts all over again, first to decommission the Olympic venues, and then to create a post-Games legacy for East London. The parklands will be the first to reopen, probably sometime in the spring of 2013, but it'll be more than a decade before the final development jigsaw is complete.

International Paralympic Day took place in Trafalgar Square on Thursday. 20 different sports were showcased, in an attempt to make them appear less dull and more relevant to the general population. Even Boris and the Prime Minister turned up to play some wheelchair tennis (although without the wheelchairs, which missed the point rather). Don't worry, the real Games will showcase considerably more talent.

Tickets for the Paralympics went on sale yesterday. You should, obviously, take an interest, particularly if you failed to get any tickets in the Olympic tombola. They're running the same lottery system again, but only if sessions are over-subscribed which I reckon is unlikely in most cases. I've already told you what to apply for and why, here, so that the full Games experience can be yours. Don't be snobbish, get in there and watch some top international athletes doing inspiring stuff. Bargain-priced tickets are up for grabs until 6pm on Monday 26th September, so grab some.

• The Orbit is taking shape fast. Stratford's big red coiltrumpet has grown to almost full height (115m) and already overshadows the Olympic Stadium nextdoor. It's now possible to see the upper platform on which the observation deck will rest, plus the central spiral staircase down which departing visitors will walk. If all goes to plan the first paying customer will ascend in the lift next May (yes, that's before the Olympics) and look down over what should no longer be a building site. But don't expect entry to come cheap - a full day at the Paralympics will cost less. [stadium] [Orbit]

If you fancy being inside the stadium for the Olympic Opening Ceremony, it's not too late to book your place. The only catch is that you'll have to sign up as a performing drummer, and that involves one hell of a prior commitment. First an audition before Christmas, then "up to three rehearsal sessions each week of up to four hours per session from March 2012", and then "a number of all day rehearsals in the three weeks leading up to each Ceremony". Would suit unemployed or retired East Londoners who aren't afraid of serious commitment. Perhaps too serious commitment, I suspect, but then global media perfection costs.

You'll no doubt be as excited as I was to hear that Nature Valley have been signed up as the "Official Cereal Snack Bar Supplier to London 2012". Not excited at all. And there's more unashamed brandwank with the news that Westfield have become the "Official Shopping Centre Developer of London 2012". Their hard cash has helped London 2012 to finally hit its £700m sponsorship target, thereby saving the British taxpayer a lot of money. But whatever Westfield have paid, it's peanuts compared to the massive footfall they'll get next summer when the majority of Olympic visitors will have to detour through their mall past umpteen tempting shop windows. There is, alas, no "Official Peanuts Supplier to London 2012", else Westfield would surely take the crown.

One fortunate beneficiary of the Olympics has been a clutch of period buildings along Bow Road. The High Street 2012 project, with funding from English Heritage, has committed hundreds of thousands of pounds to spruce up a motley row of shopfronts and housing, and made a rather nice job of it too. The Nisa supermarket at number 161 has been deep-scrubbed so that the old Co-op beehive up top looks proper vintage [before] [after]. The early 18th century brick tenement behind the kebab shop has been given a full makeover, including replacing all the inappropriate UPVC windows with proper timber-framed sash [before] [after]. Nearer the bus stops, the previous Grade-2 wreck at 199 Bow Road has been rescued from near-certain dereliction, at least above ground level (where the decor still looks very non-17th century) [before] [after]. The entire street opposite Bow Church now looks considerably lovelier than it did before, and all thanks to a summer of sporting events down the road. Even before official legacy begins, one year from today, some of London is already feeling lasting benefits.

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